Chicago 2016 Seeks Control Of Key Internet Domain Name

Chicago’s bid to host the world for the Olympic Games in 2016 is taking a cyber-detour as the city looks to claim a key piece of Internet real estate so the online world will be able to join in.

The Internet domain Chicago2016.com – the most desireable address to host the Games’ Website – was registered by an individual by the name of Steve Frayne on August 8, 2004, four days before someone connected with Chicago’s bid registered the second-best Chicago2016.org on the night before the Athens Olympic Games were to begin.

While the Chicago bid committee didn’t have any real claim to the domain in 2004 when their bid was just a good idea – the bid, along with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) have taken steps to change that.

Chicago 2016 along with the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) on July 24th filed a domain name claim with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), the body designated to sort these things out. Simply, the bid team is claiming that they have more legal right to the domain name than the current registration holder – and the current holder may be using the domain in bad faith.

The USOC registered the trademark “Chicago 2016” as early as October 11, 2006 – months before they even committed to bidding for the 2016 Games – according to the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Then shortly after the USOC finalized their intention to bid, on February 11, 2007 the IOC filed a similar international trademark with WIPO.

It’s seems Mr. Frayne may be forced to give up his domain; precedent and trademark law are against him.

The IOC has been unwavering in its desire to control the Olympic brand on the Internet. Starting in 2000 when they filed suit against over 1,800 holders of domains that contained the word “Olympic” or variations thereof, and continuing through the years as they clawed back domains that tried to imitate Olympic franchises by containing word combinations with Vancouver, Beijing and their associated years – the IOC is inevitably successful. Often the IOC registers domain names on behalf and in advance of potential bidders in order to circumvent the problem from the start.

Traditionally, Olympic cities have used the city/year combination followed by .com or the appropriate country code as their Website address. Beijing’s Website can be accessed through China’s country code – Beijing2008.cn – or with Beijing2008.com. However, in the United States the .US country code is rarely used and .com is widely considered the only option.

Currently, the Chicago 2016 Website can be found at Chicago2016.org – but should Chicago win the Games the IOC would want the .com domain too.

The IOC has many good reasons for this; one example being the recent Beijing ticket scam where visitors to a fraudulent www.beijingtickets.com Website were duped out of thousands of dollars when they bought tickets believing the site was legitimate.

Expect Chicago 2016 to win their complaint when the case is heard over the next few weeks.