About 18 months ago I was talking to a friend whose Dad wanted a website. But first he wanted the name. While he was on the phone with his Dad I tapped his suggestions into Namecheap and he picked the one he wanted. He knew something about webhosting – which he had just about got – but not about how to get the name which is why I got phoned. Anyway, he picked the name and I bought the .com and .co.uk They went on auto-renew at Namecheap and that was that. They were his names, I just happened to have bought them.
He called last night. http://tarmac.co.uk own the trademark ‘tarmac’ and they wanted the site and his business renaming – the domain name has the word ‘tarmac’ in it. I’m no lawyer of course but I pointed out that his business had been around since the early 90’s so history was on his side. I also said that if he just quit the domain name they’d probably be happy – they only want him out of any search results. It was at this point I realised the names are mine. And then he said he’d signed something the company had sent him. He wasn’t entirely sure what he had signed but what he could not have done is agreed to anything about the domain name because it’s not his. It is his as far as I am concerned, but seeing as they are throwing lawyers at him then it’s actually mine right now. Now Dave is looking at another domain name which he will buy, move his sites to and as far as he is concerned the matter is closed. Dave has a small business in the Midlands. Does driveways, playgrounds, carparks. He can’t afford new vans let alone challenge a multinational company worth millions.
If the owners of http://pineapple.com decide to sell computers, and the owners of http://frapple.com and http://appleappleapple.com decide to sell music players then I might, just might, see Steve Jobs sending a squadron of lawyers in to silence them. Apple are no slouches at protecting their trademarks (even though they rip from others). But tarmac?
I have emailed them to ask what offer they are going to make me. I suspect they will demand that I give them the names (no), that I do not use them for anything tarmac related (no) and have lots of legalese in there too. This is just a big guy trying to bully the little guy. Tarmac porn? I have every intention of either them buying them from me, or me being a PITA for them. I could have a tarmac blog. Boring but a good crack at it would get to the front page of Google easy enough – not like the ‘tarmac’ tag at Technorati is hotly contested is it? Even in our village we have tarmaced roads so no shortage of images and camera angles here. And I could always ‘transfer’ the sites to another identity so hiding them from their sticky black fingers.
They have my address. After the call last night I took the dog out and while out realised that my privacy might not have been complete – it wasn’t. So that’ll be a letter they’ll send then. I think I’ll email Sir Mark Moody-Stuart – the head guy at Anglo-American – and see what he reckons.