It’s aggravating to find frivolous lawsuits such as one I will talk about today where someone fighting for a domain just doesn’t get it. The single thing that takes a negative situation like this and shows some positive light is when you find that there are good – no great people such as David E. Weslow (handling the case pro-bono) and organizations like the Internet Commerce Association (how I found out about this) which help tilt the scale in the other direction. Situations like this are exactly why I joined the ICA; because we need more people and organizations like this.
Let’s get into the gist of what is going on:
A married woman named Heidi Powell who has owned HeidiPowell.com since 2005 is being continually harassed (in my opinion) by an arrogant television celebrity who became popular due to, at least initially, her husband being a fitness celebrity.
Here is a heartfelt video explanation from the current owner Heidi Powell as well as a plea for assistance in battling the frivolous case.
In 2010, a woman named Heidi married television celebrity Chris Powell and became Mrs. Heidi Powell. According to her website, sometime in 2013 ABC Television filmed husband and wife in their home as part of reality TV series “Meet the Powell Pack”. According to his website, Chris Powell, his magazine and TV appearances began sometime around 2011. It seems, at least to me, that both husband and wife reached their celebrity status long after the HeidiPowell.com domain name owner claimed ownership of the domain and began using it for what she claims was email, and then later her website (Even the husbands ChrisPowell.com was registered afterwards).
Regardless of what the current rightful owner is or was doing with the domain, since her name is Heidi Powell and the domain name is the exact match of her actual name, it’s irrelevant – because the name was clearly not registered in bad faith – a typical requirement of UDRP. Case closed in my opinion.
The fact that plaintiffs husband celebrity fitness trainer Chris Powell owns ChrisPowell.com and that his wife Heidi Powell is now also a fitness celebrity does not mean she is “entitled” to the matching .com domain name just because of who she is and that she has the ability to file a lawsuit. (What’s with the entitlement society we all live in now anyway? Whatever happened to having to have the idea first, or having to work harder then the next guy [or gal]?)
Either way – there is a process to owning a domain name and the process needs to be followed – and everyone that wants to own a domain name is subject to that same process.
You need to register a domain name once you intend to own and/or use one. To do this you have to make sure someone else doesn’t already have it first – domains are first come first serve. If someone does already own the domain name, you have to find a different one. That’s just the way it is.
Sure, you can try and offer the current owner a financial incentive to sell the domain name, but if the current owner does not wish to sell it, you’ve got to move on and find an alternative domain. The one thing you cannot do is steal the domain name. That is not the way the system works.
I would suggest that this celebrity fitness husband and wife team take a look at the battle over Nissan.com which began in 1999 and is referred to as Nissan Vs Nissan. The court ruled in favor of the original domain name owner and has awarded the original domain name owner at least $58,000.00 thus far in attorney’s fees to defend themselves against the giant auto manufacturer. Believe it or not, the plaintiff in the case still seems to be intent on eventually getting the name by filing additional trademarks, yet after near 20 years of battling, it’s probably never going to happen and they’ve likely wasted millions of dollars in legal fees – and continue to waste more.
Now, the plaintiff in the HeidiPowell.com case (the harasser) is going a different route and is going to try and circumvent the system by claiming the domain name should have been listed as an asset of a bankruptcy proceeding and thus been available for purchase through the bankruptcy court to the highest bidder but this likely is not going to work either because domain names where likely not required to be included in the disclosure of assets and even if it was it would have had little to no value at the time. You cannot reverse history.
Hopefully a case of Reverse Domain Name Hijacking can be pursued and won.
You can help support the owners of HeidiPowell.com by visiting and contributing to their GoFundMe support page or by simply sharing this information with others you feel will either financially support them or will share the information.
For all of you die-hard gTLD lovers out there, maybe this celebrity fitness trainer should just go register www.heidi.fitness or www.heidi.training? That would be just as good right. Problem solved?? :))
The following links contain additional news, opinion and commentary on the issue.
- USA Today: TV star Heidi Powell sues grandmother Heidi Powell over website
- The Register: Narcissist Heidi Powell wants her dot-com and she wants it now, now, NOW!
- DomainNameWire: Reverse domain name hijacking alleged in HeidiPowell.com lawsuit
- DomainNameWire.com: WTF: Heidi Powell files cybersquatting lawsuit against Heidi Powell over HeidiPowell.com
- DNJournal.com: ICA’s 1st Lonnie Borck Memorial Award Goes to Attorney David Weslow for dedication and persistence in his pro bono representation of Heidi Powell in the HeidiPowell.com dispute
- NamePros.com: Defend HeidiPowell.com against a Bullying Celebrity Thief!
About The Author: John Colascione is Chief Executive Officer of Internet Marketing Services Inc. He specializes in Website Monetization, is a Google AdWords Certified Professional, authored a ‘how to’ book called ”Mastering Your Website‘, and is a key player in several Internet related businesses through his search engine strategy brand Searchen Networks®