TOPEKA (KSNT) – Casey Mclenon is the owner of Little Russia Chili Parlor in Little Russia. With any new business, advertising is important. So, you can imagine the disbelief he had when he found out that he wouldn’t be able to use his restaurant’s unique name while registering his domain.
What at first seemed like a coincidence quickly turned into a dispute. Not only does the person who bought littlerussiachiliparlor.com not own a restaurant by the name, the person who bought littlerussiachiliparlor.com is a neighbor who lives in Topeka.
“The Little Russia Chili Parlor business name keywords are not in the domain we are currently using at 508 Pickles because they are already taken,” Mclenon said. “So, it changes the efficiency of website marketing. The biggest challenge of any business is letting people know you exist.
When it comes to registering a web address, it’s first come, first served. 27 News called the man who bought it several times. He works for the state health department, but has never returned calls asking for an interview. So is there any hope for the restaurant owner? Perhaps an attorney can help provide that answer.
“In general, if someone registers a trademark in a domain name that they do not have the authority to use and uses that domain name in bad faith, and this is critical, it must be proven in a case where the case goes up or down, then the complainant who is the owner of the trademark can have the domain name transferred or cancelled,” said Cheryl Burbach, partner at Hovey Williams LLP.
According to Burbach, some examples of bad faith include doing nothing with a trademark that truly belongs to someone else and holding domain rights for more money than they’re actually worth.
“If I registered a domain name that cost me $10, I have no business affiliated with that name and I say oh sure I will sell it to you for half a million dollars that is proof of bad faith unless you can prove the domain is worth half a million dollars,” Burbach said.
“We talked pricing back and forth and I didn’t feel like I wanted to be held hostage to anything like that,” Mclenon said. “I feel like I shouldn’t have to pay 10, or 20, or 30 or 100 times the domain registration fee.”
Mclenon says what’s going on seems predatory and unethical. All he wants is to be able to register the domain under his restaurant name so he can continue to advertise properly.