We all remember a few years back where we broke the story about realestate.com.au attempting to trademark the name “Real Estate”. Well now it seems they are to flex their muscle with this trademark against the similarly named Realestate1.com.au
Leaving aside the fact that only a simpleton would think they were owned by the same company and also leaving aside your impressions of the services or practices of Realestate1.com.au this lawsuit stinks – stinks bad, real bad (Elaine – Seinfeld)
IP Australia clarified this position and realestate.com.au wanted to reassure everyone that they were all soft and cuddly on this issue. What is at stake here is anyones use of the word realestate in their domain name across Australia.
Realestate.com.au under our laws definitely has a right to protect its brand – even though I think (personal opinion) every single instance of trademarks and copyright laws only protects the powerful and as this TED.com video demonstrates that industries can still thrive without these protections.
However, unless this company acts in its delivery of services or in any manner as if it is in some way affiliated with REA this is just plain wrong and we all should defend the rights to have the common term realestate in any domain name we feel appropriate. We should not allow the will of the pen of realestate.com.au’s legal department to force us into defending the use of a word that is no one’s to won or defend.
Let us not forget that REA acquired this domain name when under MelbourneIT’s rules (they were the monopoly registrar back then) you were not allowed to register common names like this, but that didn’t stop News Ltd and other big organizations slipping through with domains like news.com.au. For everyday folks like us, it was impossible to register these common names.
If Realestate1.com.au have done something wrong then REA have their right to take action, but this sets down a frightening precedent for all of us.
Smells bad, real bad!