Brandon Myers and the Kyler Murray Domain Name

This article details the case of K1 Promotions LLC v. Brandon Myers, regarding the domain names <> and <>. The complaint was initiated by K1 Promotions LLC, represented by Y. Jae Kim, against Brandon Myers over the registration and use of the domain names that directly correspond to the name of Kyler Murray, a professional football quarterback for the Arizona Cardinals of the National Football League (NFL).

Summary of Findings for and Reasons for Decision:

  1. Common Ownership of Domain Names: The Panel found that the disputed domain names were commonly owned/controlled by a single Respondent using multiple aliases, allowing the proceedings to move forward against both domain names.
  2. Rights in the Kyler Murray Mark: K1 Promotions LLC (Complainant), associated with Kyler Murray, claimed common law rights in the “KYLER MURRAY” mark due to its international recognition and use, especially in connection with Murray’s professional achievements and sponsorship deals. The Panel agreed, recognizing the common law rights based on extensive and continuous use and consumer recognition.
  3. Identical or Confusingly Similar: The domain names were found to be identical or confusingly similar to the “KYLER MURRAY” mark, as they incorporated the entire mark, with the addition of generic top-level domains (gTLDs) not altering this assessment.
  4. Lack of Rights or Legitimate Interests by the Respondent: The Panel concluded that the Respondent had no rights or legitimate interests in the domain names. Despite the Respondent’s claim of operating a fan site, the domain names were used in a manner that impersonated or suggested affiliation with Murray without a clear disclaimer, undermining any claim of legitimate noncommercial or fair use.
  5. Bad Faith Registration and Use: The Respondent’s actions were found to be in bad faith, including registering the domain names in anticipation of Murray’s fame and attempting to sell them for exorbitant prices far exceeding out-of-pocket costs, indicating an intention to exploit Murray’s trademark for commercial gain.
  6. Decision: The Panel ordered that the domain names <> and <> be transferred from the Respondent to the Complainant.

Implications Regarding the Use of Names in Domain Names

This case illustrates the principle that even common law rights in a name or trademark can provide grounds for action against domain name registrations that exploit the reputation associated with those rights. The decision underscores that the mere fact a domain name includes someone’s name does not automatically make it permissible for use, especially when it’s used to impersonate, suggest affiliation with, or otherwise exploit the reputation of individuals holding rights to that name.

Regarding the hypothetical scenario of using a domain name for purposes not related to the original person of that name, such as promoting another individual in a completely different field (e.g., an adult film star versus a VFX artist), legality hinges on specific factors including the presence of trademark rights, the risk of confusion, and whether it’s being used in bad faith. If the use does not infringe on trademark rights or mislead consumers regarding affiliation or endorsement, and is not in bad faith, it may not necessarily be illegal. However, this can be a nuanced area of law, often requiring careful consideration of the specific facts and applicable legal standards.

Domain Name FAQ’s

Q1: What is a common law trademark?
A1: A common law trademark refers to rights that are acquired through the actual use of a mark in commerce, even if the mark is not registered. These rights are recognized based on the mark’s ability to signify a unique source of a product or service to consumers.

Q2: How can someone prove common law rights in a name or mark?
A2: To prove common law rights, the party claiming such rights must demonstrate extensive and continuous use of the name or mark in commerce, which has led to consumer recognition of the mark as a source identifier for goods or services.

Q3: What does it mean for a domain name to be “identical or confusingly similar” to a trademark?
A3: A domain name is considered “identical or confusingly similar” to a trademark if it incorporates the trademark in its entirety or in such a way that it could cause confusion among consumers, leading them to mistakenly believe there is an affiliation or endorsement by the trademark owner.

Q4: Can the registration of a person’s name as a domain name constitute bad faith?
A4: Yes, registering a person’s name as a domain name can be in bad faith, especially if the registrant intends to exploit the reputation of the person, sell the domain for excessive profit, or mislead consumers regarding an affiliation with the person.

Q5: Is it legal to use a domain name for purposes unrelated to the name of the original person?
A5: It can be legal to use a domain name for unrelated purposes if it doesn’t infringe on trademark rights, cause confusion, or deceive consumers about sponsorship or endorsement. However, the legality depends on the specifics of each case, including whether the use is in bad faith.

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