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Thursday, October 15, 2009
Chris Bosh wins rights to domain

Alert reader Devin Black sends along this story about Chris Bosh of the Toronto Raptors, who successfully sued to recover use of the domain from a cyber-squatter named Luis Zavala, who also held domain names of more than 800 other celebrities.

Interestingly, rather than statutory damages (Bosh was entitled to $ 12,000, which he doubted Zavala could pay), Bosh asked the court to make Zavala relinquish control of the other 800 celebrity names he had been using (I presume Bosh will simply relinquish those names and not try to sell them off). That's an interesting remedy. But I wonder if the court actually could grant this. After all, Bosh is not injured because Zavala owned


Wouldn't it be great if a court could?

Anonymous Anonymous -- 10/15/2009 12:50 PM  

I used to work as a law clerk for a company that handles internet domain arbitration cases. There are tons of people who jump on famous brands or names and grab the rights to the domain names, in hopes of getting a quick payoff to relinquish the rights. At the company I worked for, whoever wanted the rights to a domain name would have to show some kind of right to the domain name (if your name is Chris Bosh, you obviously have more of a right to a domain name than somebody named Zavala, and there is arbitral caselaw to back that up). However, you HAD to have some right to the domain name, otherwise it was first-come first-served.
I haven't examined the statute under which Bosh sued this guy, but I have no idea how the judge could legally hand over the rights to other peoples' domain names, unless it was just handed over in lieu of cash payment. This was an interesting judgment.

Anonymous Beej -- 10/15/2009 2:46 PM  

It's clearly in lieu of the $12,000 damages. Why are you reading so much into this?

Blogger Ash B -- 10/15/2009 5:10 PM  

Hmmm. When I went to the article, it said $120,000 not $12,000. I swear it switched because earlier it did say $12,000 so I wonder what the deal is?

Anonymous Anonymous -- 10/15/2009 6:32 PM  

It is in lieu of the damages (however much they are). But unlike the damages, Bosh is no more entitled to domain names such as than Zavala is. So my question was how a court could grant that remedy.

Blogger Howard Wasserman -- 10/15/2009 7:05 PM  

Howard, just a thought - As to why Avala still has the right to transact with these names, this was not a class action suit to my knowledge and therefore, technically, only Bosh's domain was deemed problematic. In theory, the facts/discovery could lead to a different result in the other 799cases (e.g. maybe the rest were fan sites protected by 1st Amend. - very doubtful indeed).

Also, I have read a few different news articles on this issue and some say that the judge "ordered" this unorthodox remedy, while other articles claim it was a "settlement." I wonder if a reporter may have simply gotten confused and assumed this was a judgment and not a settlement. Makes sense that Avala would agree to this, as these names are not only worthless to him following the ruling but each is potentially very costly as well. Actually a hell of a deal for him if it satisfies the 120K debt he would have owed.

Anonymous Anonymous -- 10/15/2009 7:32 PM  

If you read the WSJ article, they actually have a link to all the websites in question. Go to it. Quite interesting: notice all the high school athletes. Still, there is no fan site issue here at all. It's called extortion (if you want that domain name from Zavala) and such misconduct has been clearly banned by the ACCPA. Still, Howard has an interesting point: how could these others be awarded to Bosh? My guess is that they were not: go to the same link of the sites in question and read the top--someone else has the power to return them (for free) to their "rightful" owner.

Anonymous Anonymous -- 10/15/2009 8:52 PM  

The article I read indeed said the court had awarded all 800 names to Bosh; and Bosh had said he would transfer them free of charge to the individuals referenced in the each of the domain names. I have to agree though, when I read this, I do not understand how the court could order that remedy; and how Bosh has any entitlement whatsoever in names other than his own unless he had filed a class action. The article I read did not indicate his suit was a class action. I don't think it was a settlement, since I thought the article said they had been unable to locate Zavala.

Anonymous Anonymous -- 10/16/2009 11:24 PM  

Here's a nice summary as well:
Further, I don't think its an issue of "unable" to located Zavala, but more like refusal to comply with summons and complaint which he received.

Anonymous Anonymous -- 10/17/2009 1:01 PM  

Here's an interesting little tidbit.

"The infringing website originally displayed ads using Bosh's name to generate revenue for Zavala and, but had no actual association to Bosh."

Type Zavala's website address into your browser. Or try some of the others from the list:,,

Would this case have been any different if Zavala owned it and just used it as a fan site? Would it depend whether the fan site was, say, profiting from ads? Does it depend on what the exact name of the website is? What if he were just "squatting" on

What about this site (, which looks like a fan site (albeit not a very good one claiming that Bosh plays for the Pistons), but is set up for ads on the right hand column?

Anonymous Devin Black -- 10/17/2009 6:32 PM  

...and the questions continue, the debate goes on, and Zavala is nowhere in sight...but there is a court order and unless there is an objection, this case is closed...

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