Green Bay family loses web domain to Packers over "bad faith"

GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - Imagine owning a website that's desired by two multi-million dollar companies. What would you ask for? A Green Bay family asked for too much.

The Green Bay Packers challenged the family's ownership of the TitletownTech.com domain and won.

According to findings by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), which handles website domain name disputes, Chris and Julie Harris acted in "opportunistic bad faith" when they registered TitletownTech.com weeks ahead of the Packers announcing their joint venture with Microsoft in the new Titletown District, and then requested: $750,000; eight lifetime Green Bay Packers box seats; two parking passes; and eight Microsoft Surface Pro tablets with lifetime subscriptions to updates for Microsoft Office software.

The Harris Family told WIPO they registered the domain name TitletownTech.com on September 18, 2017, because they were going to start a computer network consulting business.

The Packers reached out to the family anonymously through a third party, which offered $5,000 for the domain name. The Harrises initially agreed, but told WIPO they became suspicious about the offer when the buyer wouldn't agree to talk over the phone, and they backed out.

The Harrises said when they learned about the Packers-Microsoft partnership on October 19 -- one month and a day after registering the domain -- they "felt as though an organization they admire greatly [was] being coy and trying to trick them."

The Harrises said their counter-offer wasn't serious but was "meant to send a message and came from a place of frustration."

WIPO saw it differently. In its findings, the panel says the family chose a name that was "confusingly similar" to a trademark the Packers owned for 50 years.

The panel noted that the website appeared to be a placeholder with minimal information.

It called the timing of the registration "suspicious."

And, as the Packers argued in the complaint, when the domain name was registered, the Green Bay Packers' own address was given for the contact information.

TitletownTech.com now promotes the Packers' and Microsoft's plans to work with local businesses to expand their technology and help fund and incubate technology start-ups.



 
We welcome comments and civil discussions. powered by Disqus