Feb 7 Update
I win. I get to keep my domain.
This week, the Court dismissed all charges against me, for lack of personal jurisdiction. This is exactly what we asked for. The court told the other guys, in effect, they came to the wrong place, and they need to take it somewhere else.
The other guys could choose to file in Texas, where I would have the homefield advantage. Of course, should they choose to do so, we would be prepared to vigorously argue the merits of the case.
Our victory has achieved two results. First, we've established that companies cannot use "long arm" tactics to take away a domain. Long distance lawsuits are very difficult and expensive to fight. Most small domain holders simply could not appear to answer the charges, and thus would lose their domain by default. We've help strengthen precedents to prevent that.
Maybe even more importantly, we've put companies on notice that small domain-holders are willing to stand up against predatory domain-stealing tactics.
I am Chip Rosenthal. I am an engineer with experience in the design and administration of Internet systems and Unix/Linux system software. Currently, I am a self-employed consultant. I am 42 years old. I live in Austin, Texas. I don't own any cowboy boots.
I am fortunate to have excellent legal representation. My lead counsel is Cherie M. Chappell. She practices in Edmond, Oklahoma. My local counsel is James S. Tyre. His office is in Culver City, California.
In 1990, I registered the Internet domain UNICOM.COM, and have been using it ever since. I started running a web server (and a Gopher server!) in 1994. My web server is used primarily to publish tools and information to the Internet community.
A company in California called Unicom Systems, Inc. has expressed an interest in acquiring my domain. They have made a number of offers, dating back to 1998. All have been rebuffed.
Recently, they sued me to obtain (among other things) the rights to my domain. I have been accused of eight charges, ranging from cyberpiracy to unfair competition. Their suit was filed in a U.S. District Court in California. I was served on December 12, 2001.
Among their reasons is a claim that I am infringing on a federal trademark they registered in 1997--seven years after I acquired the domain.
On January 2, we responded by filing a motion to dismiss. We are asking the court to dismiss the case for lack of personal jurisdiction, improper venue, and failure to state a claim. My lawyers argue this case doesn't belong in any U.S. District Court, but if it's going to be heard then the proper jurisdiction is the Western District of Texas.
A hearing is scheduled for January 28 in front of the Hon. George H. King. Between now and then, there are opportunities for the other guys to file a written opposition to our motion, and for us to file a response.
I believe this case is important. I hope it will help establish the rights of the small web publisher, and clarify the balance between publisher's rights and commercial interests.
I've established this web site to keep people advised of the progress of this case. Some of the stuff you'll find is:
- I am "weblogging" the status of the case to the front page.
- There is a library of case documents, in a side-box on the front page.
- There is a guestbook that registers some of the public reaction to this case.
My attorneys are:
Cherie M. Chappell, M.A., J.D. Chappell Law Firm, P.L.L.C. James S. Tyre Law Offices of James S. Tyre
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