Time limited offer for athletes to recover their URLs

June 4, 2010

contract, Privacy

Bosh v. Zavala isn’t necessarily leading edge news but the story remains current and deserving of our attention. While the United States District Court of the District Court Central District of California settled this cybersquatting case, the dust has yet to settle from some interesting legal developments associated with it.

To wit, Judge Florence-Marie Cooper not only returned the rights to ‘chrisbosh.com’ to NBA star Chris Bosh but the domain names of 777 other athletes and celebrities including Brittney Spears’ children, Scarlett Johanson, various Olympic gold medalists, other NBA players, plus college and high school athletes.

Doubting that Luis Zavala would pay the $120,000 USD awarded by Cooper J for the violation of Bosh’s intellectual property rights under the Federal Anti-Cybersquatting Consumer Protection Act, Bosh instead asked for the rights to the almost 800 other names that Zavala had illegally registered.

The legal basis for such a transfer of intellectual property rights to a third party is unclear. Bosh claimed the court had the authority to turn over the domain names because California law permits the court to order personal property of a judgment debtor to ‘the levying officer’ for sale to satisfy his debts. However, the California Court of Appeal has recently ruled that it ‘does not allow a turnover to the judgment creditor’ and further held that domain names are not tangible property subject to California’s turnover statute. David Johnson has an excellent analysis of the case on his blog Digital Media Lawyer at http://www.digitalmedialawyerblog.com/2009/11/bosh_v_zavala_was_the_courts_o.html

Notwithstanding the uncertainty surrounding the decision, Chris Bosh is following through on his promise to the court to contact the rightful owners of the domain names and transfer the names to them. Bosh’s lawyer, Brian Heidelberger, reminded attendees at the Sports Lawyers Association 36th Annual Conference held last month in Phoenix, AZ that the only things the affected athletes or celebrities must do – at no cost or obligation – is sign a transfer affidavit and get it notarized in order to acquire their domain name. Mr. Heidelberger advised that his client will not hold onto these domain names forever and strongly encouraged those affected to request transfer of the domain matching their name.

A copy of the press release and offer as well as the court order are attached.

Press Release pdf – Adobe Acrobat Pro (3) (2)

Bosh v Zavala – Amended Order – 2009

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