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Cybersquatters get NFL eviction notice

By GREG AUMAN

© St. Petersburg Times, published August 25, 2000


Local entrepreneurs who hoped to cash in on Super Bowl XXXV by registering game-related Web site names are in for some bad news: The NFL is still master of its domains.

Because the phrase Super Bowl is trademarked by the league, NFL Properties has been vigilant in tracking down any Web sites with those two words in their name.

"The NFL has taken the position that the use of Super Bowl in a domain name infringes upon our trademark," said NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy, who added hundreds of cease-and-desist letters have been sent this summer.

Superbowl.com is the league's official site, and the NFL also has superbowlxxxv.com and most conjugations along the same lines. Type in tampasuperbowl.com and you're redirected to buccaneers.com, the Bucs' official site. Type in nearly any other combination of Tampa and Super Bowl, and you'll find the site is spoken for ... for now.

The practice is called cybersquatting -- buying a potentially coveted domain name and hoping someone wants that name enough to pay for it. Dreams of six-figure payouts all but ended when the Anti-Cybersquatting Consumer Protection Act was passed in November.

The good news? The NFL is willing to pay for Super Bowl-related domains. The bad news? The NFL is simply willing to refund the standard $70 registration fee. Here are a few locals who registered Super Bowl sites:

superbowltampa.net: Tampa strip club magnate Joe Redner registered this site, but after getting a letter from the NFL, he turned it over. The NFL obtained its rights last week and the site no longer exists.

"We acquiesced," Redner's attorney, Luke Lirot, said. "Joe used the golden rule and realized he wouldn't want anyone using his trademarks either."

superbowltampa.com: McCarthy said the NFL filed suit Aug. 3 against St. Petersburg-based GCG Media, whose site solicits advertisers, claiming it could "reach out to millions of sports fans." GCG Media said Thursday that the company is in the process of turning the site over to the NFL.

superbowltampabay.org: This site is registered to Jonathan Mines, a retinal surgeon from Clearwater who said Wednesday that he had not been contacted by the NFL. An "avid Bucs fan" and season-ticket holder for two years, Mines said he wasn't looking to make a profit but rather to promote area businesses while building the site himself.

superbowltampabay.net: Belleair's Wayne Cathel registered four Super Bowl-named sites, and this one has a picture of a wad of $100 bills and reads: "This Domain Is For Sale!!!" Cathel said Thursday that he hadn't received any inquiries and had been advised by his attorney not to do anything with the sites because "the NFL might jump all over me." Our nod for least attractive domain name goes Cathel's superbowlxxxvtampabay.net. Not exactly a URL you stumble onto.

E-MADNESS: Those of you tired of the "e-" prefix finding its way in front of all things Internet will enjoy a visit to www.persistence.com/e-nough, home to The Society for the Preservation of the Other 25 Letters of the Alphabet. Send the site an "e-gregious" example of unnecessary e-language and you can win a T-shirt. There are links to many stories seeking e-radication of all e-words, but many of the links aren't working. Official ruling on that ... is an E.

RUDY! RUDY!: Already in Survivor withdrawal? A Wisconsin TV station's Web site has a spinoff, "Packer Island" (www.touchtmj4.com/ 4sports/packerislandform.asp). Fans can vote for who gets booted off the island each week; Erstwhile Packers Sterling Sharpe and Tony Mandarich already are gone. Reggie White of the Defendi Tribe could be the next to go, but the safe money's on Brett Favre as the last Cheesehead.

CHATWATCH: Former Olympic swimmer Mark Spitz and his nine gold medals will chat at 1 p.m. today on CNNSI.com. ... Father-and-son quarterbacks Archie and Peyton Manning will chat at 9 p.m. Monday on AOL.com (keyword: live). ... Bucs fullback Mike Alstott will be the topic of the "first-ever live interactive Webcast" at 7 p.m. Tuesday at fanlink.com.

TID-BYTES: Lightning defensemen Pavel Kubina is profiled this week as part of NHL.com's "Good Guys" series for his charity work, which includes donating 300 Lightning tickets to the Make-a-Wish Foundation last season. ... Soccer fans can vote on their choice among six proposed designs for next year's MLS ball at MLSnet.com. ... Cheapskates can find the meat of Sports Illustrated's NFL preview issue for free online at CNNSI.com. SI's Dr. Z has the Bucs as his preseason No. 1, but then again, he had last year's conference championship teams -- the Rams, Titans, Colts and Bucs -- ranked 21st, 14th and 26th and seventh before last season.

- If you have a question or comment about the Internet or a site to suggest, send an e-mail to staff writer Greg Auman at aumanac1@aol.com.

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