Blogs > Cliopatria > What's in a name?

Sep 12, 2004 8:39 am

What's in a name?

Let's say you want to register a sitename to post critical information about your university. What do you call it? The most popular choice seems to be, right?

An enterprising American University (the one in D.C. -- not YourGenericAmericanUniversity) undergraduate chose to call his [name of the university president].com. American University President Benjamin Ladner is suing, "saying the site unfairly trades on 'the goodwill' associated with Ladner's name."

The Washington Post article implies that the AU president's case doesn't look strong for some reasons that surprised me -- the"goodwill" argument and the"trademark" argument don't seem to work -- Ted Turner and Jerry Falwell have evidently failed to win challenges on that basis, and (as the article almost asks), have YOU ever heard of Ben Ladner?

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Michael C Tinkler - 9/13/2004

Would that depend on if they are holding themselves out as the person? All the fan sites get away with variations on the stars' names, after all.

Ralph E. Luker - 9/13/2004

I'm sure that people more knowledgable than I am have looked at this, but it occurs to me that something like this might be challenged under the same legal authority by which identity theft is prosecuted.