What’s My Name Again?

Josh Bourne ⬥ 18 November

In the past we’ve written about members of Congress and other elected officials who do not own their names as domain names. In many cases, the officials’ names have been registered by opportunistic squatters and host pay-per-click ads. But every so often, an official’s name is registered by a competing candidate or the opposite political party.

The latest instance of this trend targets someone who is not an elected official, but a well-known Washington figure nonetheless. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) owns the domain name JackAbramoff.com, and Abramoff is none too happy about it.

Abramoff is a former GOP lobbyist who recently spent three years in prison after pleading guilty to two separate federal cases, one involving the submission of bogus loan documents and the other involving bribery of lawmakers and Hill aides. The DCCC registered the domain JackAbramoff.com in 2006, the same year Abramoff came clean about his corrupt dealings, and points it to a site displaying the message “We didn’t forget, Jack.”

According to Abramoff, he tried to get the domain name back “amicably,” but the DCCC refused to give it up. Now he is threatening legal action.

Abramoff could have a case if he can assert trademark rights to his name predating the registration of the domain. To qualify for a trademark, Abramoff must prove he has used his name in connection with the public offering or sale of some kind of product or service in interstate commerce. Whether or not he will be successful remains to be seen.

This just goes to show, it’s worth registering your name as a domain name early. You never know when something is going to make you famous.

Tags: Abramoff, Congress, DCCC, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, domain names, enforcement, GOP lobbyist, legal action, political party, PPC sites, trademark, Washington figure

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