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Ron Paul Files Trademark Complaint Against His Fans

Tea Party Patriots Hold American Policy Summit

When Ron Paul ran for the Republican nomination for President the first time in 2008, not many people expected the grassroots movement that grew up around him, which is probably why Paul’s campaign never bothered to secure the domain RonPaul.com back then. Someone else did, though, and they turned it into a site for Ron Paul supporters and activism that lasted through the 2012 campaign. Now, the former Congressman is turning to a United Nations agency to get the domain from them:

Ron Paul has filed a complaint with the World Intellectual Property Organization against the proprietors of RonPaul.com and RonPaul.org, according to a blog post on their site on Friday.

The authors of RonPaul.com see the move as the ultimate betrayal from a politician who, more than many others, depended on an astounding level of grassroots support on the Internet in order to keep his longshot presidential campaigns running.

“Last month, after Ron Paul expressed regret on the Alex Jones show over not owning RonPaul.com (in an interview titled “Ron Paul: The Internet Is Our Last Chance to Awaken America”), dozens of supporters urged us to contact Ron Paul to work out a deal,” the owners of RonPaul.com write.

They say they offered Paul the use of RonPaul.org as a “free gift” but wanted to keep RonPaul.com. Their price, should Paul really want RonPaul.com, was $250,000.

“Claims that we tried to sell Ron Paul “his name” for $250k or even $800k are completely untrue, and there is little doubt that our mailing list would have enabled Ron Paul to raise several million dollars for the liberty movement this year. It would have been a win/win/win situation for everyone involved,” they write.

Perhaps what may be most irking to Paul supporters, though, is the fact that Paul filed his Complaint not in a court of law, but with the World Intellectual Property Organization, an agency of the United Nations tasked with the international enforcement of copyrights and trademarks. Now, you might wonder why Paul went this route instead of filing an action in a court here in the United States, I certainly did at first. Then, I did a WhoIs search and found this:

Domain ronpaul.com:
Whois Privacy Services Pty Ltd
Domain Hostmaster, Customer ID : 95459852061642
Email: 95459852061642-1ef430@whoisprivacyservices.com.au
PO Box 923
Fortitude Valley QLD 4006 AU

Administrative contact:
Technical contact:
Billing contact:
Whois Privacy Services Pty Ltd
Domain Hostmaster, Customer ID : 95459852061642
Email: 95459852061642-1ef430@whoisprivacyservices.com.au
PO Box 923
Fortitude Valley QLD 4006 AU
Phone: Phone: +61.730070090
Fax: Phone: +61.730070091

Whoever the actual owners of the domain might be, they chose to utilize a privacy service to act as the administrative contact for their website. That’s not unusual, of course, indeed I’ve done it myself. In this case, though, they’re using an administrator located in Australia and therefore effectively outside the jurisdiction of American Courts. As for the Complaint itself [PDF], it appears to be a standard domain-squatting complaint alleging that the parties are utilizing Ron Paul’s name and trademark for their own purposes for no legitimate reason. Legally, Paul appears to be on pretty solid ground here and one would expect that this will either end in some kind of settlement or a decision in his favor. At the same time, though, one has to wonder what his fans are going to think about this move.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. wr says:

    As is the case with every so-called “libertarian,” the reach of the philosophy ends at exactly the point it inconveniences its holder.

    This is exactly the triumph of the market Paul trumpets when it comes to poor people without health care or seniors starving because they weren’t smart enough to be rich… but the second the market makes Paul’s life a little less comfortable, he wants a governmental organization to step in and help him.

    One more libertarian fraud. What a shock.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 22 Thumb down 1

  2. al-Ameda says:

    Ron Paul should trademark the word “irrelevant.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1

  3. John Galt says:

    Unfortunately, authors like this one, who don’t know or understand international law having to do with domain names, are creating controversy with fraudulent statements, whether deliberate or not.

    Just a few facts:
    Ron Paul’s name is trademarked.
    The internet is global.
    The owners of the domain registered in Australia.
    When anyone purchases and registers a domain name under a .com they agree to the conditions under ICANN and URDP which provides arbitration services which is WIPO. They are international agencies. The internet is international and domain disputes are handled through international agencies whether one agrees with the fact they exist or not. It’s just the way it is.
    Ron Paul is requesting his domain name only, which is trademarked. He is not requesting compensation for any profits the owners made and lived off of for the past 5 years they have used his name, nor is he requesting the mailing list.

    AND IMHO, the current domain owners are not fans, but opportunists. They refuse to even give their names.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 9

  4. PJ says:

    Ron Paul is a member of the New World Order.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 2

  5. Surreal American says:

    @John Galt:

    AND IMHO, the current domain owners are not fans, but opportunists.

    Which solidifies their libertarian credentials, does it not?

    BTW, the question nowadays for Randroids isn’t “Who is John Galt?” but “Where is John Galt’s birth certificate?”

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 18 Thumb down 1

  6. bill says:

    sundays suck- yawn.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 4

  7. grumpy realist says:

    Doug, ICANN is the standard place to go for these sorts of problems. Yes, Ron Paul can bring suit in the US, but at some point the complaint is going to end up in front of ICANN. So why not save money and go to ICANN directly?

    Also, I’m surprised that you libertarians don’t think that ICANN is the greatest thing since sliced bread. It’s not a government; it’s a private organization. Isn’t that what you libertarians are yowling about all the time?

    The only amusing aspect about this is Libertarians ideals are coming up against reality and, of course, reality wins again….

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1