Private Equity Firm Purchases .org registry

SpaceX and Gibson lose cybersquatting challenges

It’s been a big week for big losses at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). Domain Name News reports that SpaceX recently lost a challenge against Mexican telecommunications firm StarGroup for intellectual property related to Star Line and Starlink. The two organizations had been in talks regarding the intellectual property, as SpaceX had hoped to develop the brand into its own internet access service, but StarGroup was concerned that SpaceX intended to compete with them in their own market.

In response, SpaceX claims that as a rocket company, it would be facilitating communications for those living on other planets and therefore “the services offered by SPACEX are not competing by the ones offered by STARGROUP.” During the negotiations, StarGroup registered the domain name in 2018, a domain which SpaceX later alleged StarGroup was cybersquatting on. WIPO ultimately found that StarGroup had ample claim to using that domain as it had been registering trademarks beginning with “Star” over the past 60 years and that the StarLink trademark was registered in 2015, ultimately rejecting SpaceX’s allegation.

A similar rejection also took place with guitar manufacturer Gibson, who claimed that the domain name was being squatted on by AssuredPartners Inc, who owns the domain name. It acquired the domain when it acquired Tobias Insurance Group, Inc in 2013. Gibson Guitars claimed that it was too similar to one of their subsidiary brands, “Tobias,” but such a claim would be difficult to make to the WIPO given the common nature of the name. But instead of withdrawing a claim they should have known wouldn’t succeed, Gibson Guitars pressed ahead regardless, not only having their claim rejected, but being found to have been attempting their own reverse domain hijacking.

More information about both cases are available on the WIPO website.