In a nutshell, 17 year old highschool student Mike Rowe, a budding web designer, registered a domain to promote his works and to be his personal domain. He found that MikeRoweSoft.com was available and registered it. A few months later he got a legal nastygram from Microsofts lawyers saying that he was infringing on Microsofts intellectual property and that he should give them the domain to avoid any legal troubles. After a phone call to the lawyers they offered him his registration fee of $10 as compensation. His response was standard for a 17 year old who thought that his site and time were worth significantly more and asked for $10,000. This is what the lawyers wanted.

Under WIPO (World Intellectual Property Orginization, the final court of decision for domain disputes) rules, if you register a domain in 'bad faith' i.e. to try and extort money from someone who has a vesed interest in the name, you can have the domain taken away from you and get no compensation. The Lawers for MS tricked Mike into establishing bad faith so that if they went through the whole WIPO process they could sieze the domain outright and Mike would'nt get one red cent.

Microsoft has since been getting alot of bad press over attackign a 17 year old and seems to have backed away from thier demands of him to hand over the domain

Microsoft has every right to defend thier intellectual property. However, this case shows thier utter level of stupidity and blind faith in thier lawyers who, in my opinion are the only winners in this whole thing becasue they get to rob Microsoft blind

Here's Why:
Microsoft presumably has a team of lawyers dedicated to enforcing thier intellectual property claims. These lawyers spend thier days following reports of people mis-using thier name, logo's, etc. Mike Rowe came onto thier radar screen and some lawyer saw a gold mine.

Lawyer bills Microsoft to send out the first nastygram.

Lawyer bills Microsoft more money when kid calls. Lawyer makes offer of $10 to buy the domain in order to get kid to make dumb mistake of asking for more and establishing 'bad faith' registration.

Microsoft can then use bad faith as 'Evidence' to sieze domain through WIPO (after going through judgement process) without having to pay $10 to the kid.

After lengthy judgement process, Microsoft can get domain for free and not pay kid the original $10.

Meanwhile lawyer has sent his 3 kids through university with how much he's billed Microsoft to file all the WIPO paperwork, arbiter bribing, etc.

If Microsoft sat down and thought about possible infringing domain names and registered them themselves, this whole issue would have cost them $10, not the presumably thousands they are paying in laywer fees and bad publicity

Several years ago, when GTE atlantic changed thier name to Verizon, they went on a spending spree and registered every verizon.com varient they could think of, including anything that might be used as protest sitest (verizonsucks.com, etc). 2600 derailed thier efforts, but the effort was made on verizons part to take the easy route and register obviously infringing domains.

Microsoft does'nt seem to have any idea what thier legal department is doing. Microsoftcorporation.com is registered to a company that is clearly not the Microsoft Corp. However, there seems to be no legal action proceeding thier, the site is registered in Russia. I think the lawyers realized It's easier to drag a 17 year old who registered his domain to his home address, infront of WIPO and get a friendly judgment to justify thier expenses, rather than some anonymous Russian who is alot harder to track down.

In an effort to test the actions of Microsoft's Legal department to see if they would ever think to just register variations of mikerowesoft.com to save themselves some trouble, I went on a hunt. I'm now the registered owner of Mike-RoweSoft.com.

If I get a nastygram in the mail, I'll fold faster than superman on laundry day. I'm just curious to deal with Microsoft's legal department to see how much time/money they waste retrieving a domain that they could have bought themselves in the 2.5 months since they started action against Mike Rowe.

If anything happens, I'll be sure to post it

Due to media pressure on Microsoft, they settled with Mike Rowe for an Xbox, some games, courses and an invite to Redmond. Amazing how tactics change is'nt it.


Return to Main