After the auction for the domain Ad.com was completed, Marcos Guillen, owner of the domain since 1997 was awaiting payment. Before making the payment, Divyank Turakhia owner of Skenzo.com and winning bidder in the auction for Ad.com received word from AOL (Time Warner Inc) that they had filed a trademark dispute for Ad.com. AOL claims are something like this – Since they own Advertising.com, and Ad.com is such a popular abbreviation for their own name they now believe they have rights to take Ad.com thru an infringement lawsuit. Not surprisingly, AOL had filed for a trademark on Ad.com sometime last year when they realized the domain would be auctioned off. Instead of bidding to purchase the domain, they threw a monkey wrench in the completed sale by filing the trademark infringement suit.
Realizing the potential litigation that may be necessary to protect Ad.com the winning bidder Divyank of Skenzo.com has refused to pay for the domain. In response the seller, Mr. Guillen decided to file a lawsuit against Divyank and Skenzo.com for failure to follow through with the auction purchase.
This is a nightmare for all parties involved and the domain name community. What has happened is that AOL interfered in a sale between two legit business people with their outlandish claims that they have rights to a domain name which is not and never was infringing on their Advertising.com brand. Stuck in the middle is Moniker, the company that was in charge of running the auction at the 2009 T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Conference. Not only will they lose out on their biggest commission check from that auction, they also lose credibility in the eyes of serious domain name investors.
[EDIT] According to Elliot’s most recent blog post, employees and many people in the AOL family have been using the term “Ad.com” when referring to their site “Advertising.com” for quite some time now. This is the foundation of their whole case. Seriously, who uses a nickname for their URL by calling it another URL that they don’t own, then claim rights to that domain? Rubbish. I think that AOL is sour that the domain Ad.com could have exchanged hands for a mere $1.4 million, since they purchased the far inferior Advertising.com back in 2004 for a whopping $435 million. Just today I saw another story of AOL going after a similar domain, Advertise.com with more frivolous if not spurious claims against its owner.
Ultimately, AOL will likely lose it’s infringement case(s) and the domains will be more valuable as a result of it. I spent a couple hours just reading various news sources and blogs to fully understand what is going on and all parties involved are reacting the way they are. Below are some links to check out if you want to read a bit more about this Ad.com debacle.
RicksBlog.com: The Ad.com Circular Firing Squad. Ready, Fire, Aim! Huh?
RicksBlog.com: Ad.com Lawsuits
TheDomains.com: AOL Claim To Ad.com Is Based More On A Pending Trademark…
DomainNameWire.com: Oversee.net Sues Skenzo, Oversee and Guillen Explain Their Sides