Sports Teams and Domain Names

By Mike Maddaloni on Thursday, August 16, 2007 at 08:45 AM with 0 comments

To visit the Web sites of the 4 major sports teams in Boston, one would enter the following into their browser’s address bar – redsox.com, patriots.com, celtics.com and bruins.com. If you click on those links, you will see that 3 of them will get you to where you want to go, and one goes to a domain name parking page.

Boston’s hockey team is not the only one that doesn’t own the basic name of their team. This story details the domain names teams in the 4 major sports leagues – baseball, football, hockey and basketball and who owns what. The Bruins are in good company with the other teams in the NHL in not owning the team name.

When you look at the name of teams, it is not surprising that someone else owns such generic terms as lions, rams, penguins and blues. Granted many of these pages are domain name parking pages with ads. And providing they are not attempting to violate the trademark of a sports team, why should their current owners not own them?

A recent case highlighted this with regards to the ownership of angels.com, held by someone in South Korea. I had reported on it previously but it is worth mentioning again here, and you can read the full text of the case here. Even though the owner offered to sell the domain name to MLB and the Los Angeles Angels for US$300,000.00, the case came down to the fact that the owner was not squatting on the name, leveraging the brand of the baseball team. If you look at the site at angels.com, it is a mere postcard with text in Korean (if anyone out there reads Korean, please let me know what it says).

Those teams that do not own just the name as their domain name own names with the city/state and the team name. If someone else bought chicagobears.com, the Monsters of the Midway certainly would have a claim to it. The Bears and the other teams have a recognizable domain name that will lead someone to their Web site from the address bar entry of the team name, and most certainly from a Web search. And not owning bears.com was not the reason they did not win the Super Bowl.

As a Boston sports fan, it is not surprising that the Bruins don’t own bruins.com, an online reflection of their performance over the last quarter century, but I digress.

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