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  • 标题:Universities fight use of their names
  • 作者:Bradley, Gwendolyn
  • 期刊名称:Academe
  • 印刷版ISSN:0190-2946
  • 电子版ISSN:2162-5247
  • 出版年度:2000
  • 卷号:Nov/Dec 2000
  • 出版社:American Association of University Professors

Universities fight use of their names

Bradley, Gwendolyn

Type into your Internet browser, and you'll get the official site of Rutgers University. Type , , or , and you'll be routed to the same place, because Rutgers has registered all four of those Internet addresses in an attempt to make sure that anyone looking for Rutgers on the Internet gets to the right Web site. Not every university does this, and no university has the time or resources to register every Internet address incorporating its name, even if it were so inclined. But the extent to which people unrelated to a university have the right to register university-related Internet addresses, or domain names, is in dispute.

Under federal legislation passed late last year, those who intentionally seek to exploit trademarks belonging to others by using them as Internet addresses or by using confusingly similar addresses, may be fined. In one of the first suits filed under that legislation, Harvard University claims that Michael Rhys, who registered sixtyodd Internet addresses containing the words "Harvard" or "Radcliffe," is unlawfully exploiting its name and could damage the university's reputation. Rhys reportedly maintains that he intended to rent the Internet addresses to businesses with similar names; he points out that many businesses unaffiliated with Harvard University contain the word "Harvard" in their names, and indeed the Internet address is registered not by the university but by the Harvard Bookstore, a privately owned business.

Last summer, Harvard became embroiled in another fight, this time with NotHarvard.com, a company based in Austin, Texas, that has since changed its name. The company, which says it "gleefully straddles the line between education and commerce," designs online "courses" intended primarily as marketing tools for clients that include BarnesandNoble.com and Motorola. When a customer enrolls in a free course on Moby Dick, for example, she is encouraged to buy texts for the course from Barnes and Noble and become familiar with the site, which increases the chance that she will return to it to purchase other items.

In August the online company filed a preemptive suit against Harvard University, asking a judge to find that its name did not violate the university's trademark rights. The university countersued a few days later, claiming that the defendant was exploiting the university's fame. In September the company changed its name to powered.com.

"There are probably hundreds of Web sites with the word 'Harvard' in them, and we rarely take anyone to court," says university spokesperson Doug Gavel. "But we see a problem when people use the name to advance their efforts in the areas of our core missions: education and research."

Copyright American Association of University Professors Nov/Dec 2000
Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning Company. All rights Reserved

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