This is another one of those David and Goliath stories that always aggravate me. Another case of the big giant shoving around the little guy who has a smaller sword and shield in the hopes he'll just give up.
For those that aren't familiar, this story is about Paul Dell who lives in Spain. He's a web designer who, in 2001 purchased the domain name www.dellwebsites.com. Novel idea naming your business after yourself and what you do — I doubt anyone's ever done it before. About a year later, Dell came knocking. "Hey, give us your domain name. It might confuse people." Huh? If I'm looking for a new computer, I'm sure not looking for a website — nor the other way around. Paul said no. Dell went away — for a while.
Then, about a year ago, they came back. "You're still using the same name." Ummm, yes, I sure am. It's my name. It's what I do. "Give it to us." Ummmm — no? (You can read the story from Jan 2005 at The Register.) And again he didn't hear for a while.
Now Dell is back in a BIG way. Not only asking for the domain name but suing Paul for hundreds of thousands of Euro for all this loss they've incurred by him continuing to run his web design business using the name Dell WebSites. And we, his friends and fellow business owners are encouraging Paul to fight.
Why do large corporations have more of a right to every "possibly related" URL that exists? I own www.violetsky.net — why do I not own www.violetsky.com? Because someone else does. Now that I'm "famous" do I go to him and say, "Hey, I should have that domain because it might cause people confusion." And in fact, it does cause people confusion. I've had clients forget and email me at that address. However, the gentleman that owns it has been kind enough to set me up with forwarding so that if they make a mistake, I don't miss any email. Dell shouldn't have any more right to Paul's domain than I have to the dot com of my domain. It was available when they were "famous." They should have purchased all the available related domain names that might confuse people — just to be sure. But if they didn't and it's gone now, just like me, they don't get it. It's a free society of domain names and the heavy hitters shouldn't have any more weight than the little guy. And if they're nice, maybe Paul will set up email forwarding for their clients that get confused. Something like firstname.lastname@example.org — he's a nice guy — I know he'd do it.
So what's the problem with Paul fighting? Cash baby. Plain and simple. He lives in Spain, the suit is in France. Paul's Spanish lawyers want him to use a specialist in Paris. A great lawyer — but a very expensive one. The down payment to get this lawyer to read the case and advise would buy Paul a new car. And though it was tough for him, we've finally convinced him to take donations so that he can actually fight it hard. I've set up a blog for his defense. Paul's even willing to give anyone that wants to help out — however big or small — a copy of his Sunflowers Web Template as a token of his appreciation. A link will be included in his thanks to you.
So Goliath is yelling and strutting his stuff — but hey, we're sending you rocks, Paul. Put one in your sling and give it a whirl.
You can keep up with the story on the Paul Dell blog some friends have created. Please donate to the Paul Dell Defense fund. Let's keep the internet accessible to the little guys. Maybe next time, it will be you the corporations come after.