Dover firm sues over domain name

A Dover sporting goods outlet is suing one of the largest Internet domain companies in federal court for using a similarly named Web site to direct Internet users to competitors as well to as online pornography sites peddling sex toys.

Philbrick’s Sports wants eNom to drop the name philbricksports.com, because of its similarity to several sites registered by the retailer, as well as an unspecified amount of damages, according to the suit, which was filed last week in U.S. District Court in Concord.

Philbrick’s Sports (owned by Daniel J. Philbrick) has been selling hockey and other sporting equipment since 1983, and claims to be one of the largest hockey equipment retailers in northern New England.

But eNom is a cyber giant, the second-largest domain registrar worldwide and the leading register of resellers, according to the suit. The company uses a sophisticated “club drop” program that catches expiring domain names and parks on names that have income-generating potential, according to the suit.

Its most profitable domain names are those that are “intentionally configured to be confusingly similar to well-known names and marks and which purposefully trade on the associated goodwill,” says the suit.

Users who might leave an “s” out of a domain name would be directed to a site that contains links to Philbrick’s competitors, or in some cases to pornographic sites. The suit contains a printout of one set of links, listed under the heading “Welcome to philbricksports.com,” which include links to HornyMatches.com, SeniorSizzle.com and lonelycheatingwives.com.

Such practices “outrageously and deceptively associates such a site with Plaintiffs, thereby seriously, if not irreparably, damaging the image of Plaintiff’s [trade]mark, reputation and goodwill in the mind of customers many of whom are likely to be children and parents of children.”

Phibrick’s filed a similar suit against Stephen Dyer and Paul Dyers for using the names philbricksport.com and philbricksport.net in Strafford County Superior Court. On March 19, the court issued a preliminary restraining order against the Dyers. After they stopped using the domain names, however, eNom picked them up.

The suit says that both these names have been in the possession of Philbrick’s Sports since March, but as of Monday only one of the sites direct traffic to the retailer. The other still provided links to the company’s competitors. – BOB SANDERS

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