Tribe Accuses Man Of "Cyber-Squatting" On Internet Domain Names
MILWAUKEE (AP) - A lawsuit filed by the Menominee Indian tribe accuses a man of "cyber-squatting" on almost two-dozen Internet domain names that use terms closely associated with the tribe.
The tribe said defendant Thomas Weitz offered to sell the names to the tribe for 75,000. It contends that he, in effect, held the tribe's "own names hostage for payment."
Weitz said his firm does not now own any domain names related to the Menominee tribe. He declined to say whether he or his firm had sold the rights to the names.
"I don't believe they (the tribe) have trademarks on any of their names," he said. "If you don't have a trademark, the Internet's a big place."
Among the domain names Weitz listed with Network Solutions Inc., which registers do main names, are "menominee nation.com;" "menomineeca-sino.org;" "keshena.com;" and "menomineegaming.com," according to the suit,filed this week in federal court here. Keshena is the government seat of the tribe, the suit says.
The suit alleges the names "Menominee" and "Keshena" qualify for trademark protection because they are "famous marks" as defined in federal trademark law.
Weitz is named as a defendant along with his business, Neat 'n Clean Inc., and two of its divisions, Domains 4 Lease and World Vision. Native Advertising, an Antigua corporation that sells Internet services, also is named as a defendant, as is Network Solutions.