A cybersquatter in the soft drink industry – Domain Name Wire
How to annoy your rivals and land in legal hot water.
Wired ran an article this week about an interesting figure in the soft drink industry who registers domains for competitors’ brands.
Reynald Grattagliano is the founder of soft drink manufacturer ArKay. By all accounts, it’s been in the business much longer than competitors such as Seedlip and Ritual Zero Proof. Apparently, he is so annoyed by the competition that he has registered many domains corresponding to his competitors’ brands.
It’s a bit like Yahoo was miffed the day Google and other internet search companies launched and registered their trademark in domain names.
Grattagliano registered Kentucky74.com, which is a rival’s brand, and created a site that promotes Arkay’s alternative. He even got a trademark for the name in Mexico.
Still, it looks like cybersquatting, even though he owns the brand in another jurisdiction. Excerpt from the Wired article:
Buying domains containing other people’s brands is known as cybersquatting and is almost as old as the internet itself. In 1999, Congress banned the practice. But Grattagliano says he grabbed domains that match other companies’ products before the brands were registered in the first place. “Many competitors are so focused on destroying me that they forgot to register their trademarks and domain names,” says Grattagliano. “Therefore, my job is to protect my business by securing trademarks and domain names.”
It doesn’t matter that they don’t have registered their marks again. He clearly registered the domains because he knew they were a competitor’s brand. It’s not like Microsoft announces a new product but doesn’t acquire the corresponding domain, so Apple can go ahead and register it.
Grattagliano went even further by issuing fake press releases, including one announcing the acquisition of two of his rivals.
This isn’t Grattagliano’s first rodeo to conquer fields from competitors. He did the same in the late ’90s when he worked in the perfume industry, Wired reports.