Legal Question in Intellectual Property in Illinois

I won the domain name phibetasigmatampa.org in auction at Godaddy. The previous owner let it expire. My reason for doing so was that it had some good links pointing to it so I just want it to link to some other sites, which helps them rank higher in search engines. I published a small one page site with links in the content. Several weeks later I got a C&D letter from president of the Phi Beta Sigma fraternity in Tampa (see below).

I am not selling any products on the website. There are no ads or anything like that, just some text and links to my other sites. I am not trying to deceive anyone into thinking that I am related to the fraternity. I work in the online gambling sector so I needed the page to be partially about gambling. With that in mind I gave the site a theme related to an online poker fraternity. I have gotten C&D emails in the past and 90% of them are just people trying to scare me into giving them a domain. It isn't worth going to court over or anything but in this case I wanted to get an opinion. The domain consists of Greek Alphabet letters/words and the term "Tampa" at the end. They do seem to have a trademark for the term Phi Beta Sigma but it looks to be related to making items for sale (clothes, watches, nick-nacks...ect) with the words or symbols on them. Not sure it covers everything or just that.

If anyone could give me some advice I would greatly appreciate it. The domain really isn't very valuable so I'm not too concerned. More of a prinicple issue, not wanting to give in without even getting an opinion. Thanks in advance. Here is part of the email I received:

"I am writing on behalf of the Tampa Alumni Chapter of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc. (“Tampa Alumni”), a recognized professional and civic organization chartered in Tampa, Florida in 1946 and part of an International Fraternity founded in 1914, (the “Fraternity”). The Fraternity has developed valuable trademark rights under the name “Phi Beta Sigma” and corresponding Greek letters “FBS, among others, (the “Marks”). The Tampa Alumni further developed good faith and trusted relationships under these Marks and is well known among academic and commerce circles within the Tampa Bay Metropolitan Area. Collectively, the Tampa Alumni and/or the Fraternity are resolute in its efforts to protect such rights. The Tampa Alumni recently discovered you are the current domain registrant for the following internet domain name:

www.PhiBetaSigmaTampa.org

Your present use of this domain constitutes illegal domain parking, which is a form of cybersquatting that occurs when a trademark of one party is registered by another party as a domain name and generates revenue, (in your case, through the use of internet gambling). The registrant of such domain name profits from the trademark without the consent of the mark owner – in this case, Tampa Alumni and/or the Fraternity. Your attempt to profit from the use of the domain name qualifies as infringement and amounts to cybersquatting under the Anti-cybersquatting Consumer Protection Act (“ACPA”), 15 U.S.C. § 1125(d). This is a clear violation of the legal rights the Tampa Alumni and/or the Fraternity. See Webadvisor v. Bank of America Corp., 448 Fed.Appx. 95 (2nd Cir. 2011)."

Asked on 8/10/13, 9:28 pm

1 Answer from Attorneys

Bruce Burdick Burdick Law Firm
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Advice: Assign this domain name to the Fraternity and quit cybersquatting. The C&D letter is quite correct. You are a cybersquatter and violates 15 USC 1125(d) See http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/15/1125

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8/12/13, 12:28 am

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