The Cleveland Browns can now take their place among the Green Bay Packers, the Pittsburgh Steelers, the New York Giants, and the Indianapolis Colts – not because the team has won a Super Bowl Championship in the last decade, but because it now owns the domain name version of its team name, Browns.com.
Earlier this week, a World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Panelist ordered that Browns.com be transferred from its previous owner to the Cleveland Browns Football Company in UDRP arbitration. In order to prove that the previous owner had been using the domain name in bad faith, the Browns had to take a little trip back in time, consulting the Wayback Machine for screenshots to demonstrate that the domain hosted a site with content and links to “Cleveland Browns,” “Cleveland Browns Tickets” and “National Football League.”
Currently, the site displays the message, “Sito In Construzione” or “Site In Construction” (sic) in Italian. Had the Browns not gone back into the archived records of the Wayback Machine, it might have been much more difficult to fulfill the “bad faith” requirement of the UDRP. The tool is considered part of the public record, and under WIPO’s rules, Panelists have the power to make limited enquiries into the public record. The Panelist investigated the Browns’ claims for himself and determined them to be accurate.
The Panelist took the evidence from the Wayback Machine into account along with the findings that the domain was identical or confusingly similar to the Browns’ trademark, and that the previous owner lacked rights to or legitimate interest in the domain, and eventually ordered that the domain be transferred to the football team.
Looks like a touchdown for the Wayback Machine.
Recovering Browns.com is also a big win for the Browns, who were previously using the domain name ClevelandBrowns.com. Browns.com is much easier for fans to remember and to type into their browsers, and puts the Browns in league with teams like the New England Patriots who use Patriots.com and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers who use Buccaneers.com, among others.
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