CharlieSheen.com — The case of celebrity domain names and legal disputes

Charlie Sheen

The Charlie Sheen drama that has been all over the media, no doubt, is creating interest online, which naturally means that people are typing in the web address, charliesheen.com, on the internet.  In January 2011, the same month Charlie Sheen was taken to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center by paramedics, the domain name saw a spike in visitor traffic according to Compete.com, an online service that provides free information for websites. 

So, what’s going on with possibly one of the hottest domain names of the moment? 

I haven’t seen any other news sites or blogs cover this story and there is a whole lot of backstory, not only on the domain name itself, but on the owner, who has a taste for great domain names, including celebrity domains like pamanderson.com.

Here’s a look at the charliesheen.com domain, and some related stories that have sprang up in the past week as a reaction to Charlie Sheen’s venture online with Twitter and more.

The domain name: charliesheen.com

The plain and simple answer to what’s up with the domain name is that there is no website online, just a HTTP 404 Not Found web page.  Charlie Sheen also doesn’t own the right to the domain: charliesheen.com, a person by the name of “Jeff Burgar” of the company “Alberta Hot Rods” is the registrant according to Whois records provided by DomainTools.   The very same Jeff Burgar of “Alberta Hot Rods” who owns some great domains, like Tammy.com, AbrahamLincoln.com, StevieNicks.com, Blondes.com, as well as over 1,000 more domain names including, yes, Hotrods.com.

The owner: Jeff Burgar of Alberta Hot Rods and domain disputes

The owner, is also the very same “Jeff Burgar” of “Alberta Hot Rods” who has had to respond to a number of domain disputes at WIPO, most of which involved high-profile celebrity domain names he registered in the nineties, and most of which were lost and transferred to the complainant. 

Cases have involved Pamela Anderson who won pamanderson.com, Ashley Judd who won ashleyjudd.com – the list goes on and on – catherinecookson.com (transferred), ianfleming.com (transferred), direstraits.com (transferred), tomcruise.com (transferred), larryking.com (transferred), jrrtolkien.com (transferred), and michaelcrichton.com (transferred).  For a look at all the cases involving “Alberta Hot Rods”, go here and type “Alberta Hot Rods” in the Named Respondent search field.

But Jeff’s Alberta Hot Rods was successful in a few domain disputes.  The case of the common first name domain, lana.com, saw the complainant denied.  Alberteinstein.com was denied to The Hebrew University of Jerusalem.  And the complainant for scorpions.com was denied the name.

The re-direct and website: celebrity1000.com

Take a jump in Archive.org’s Wayback Machine, and the name charliesheen.com re-directed at one point to the website, Celebrity1000.com (also offline), which served as a fan network starting back in 1996 which included a directory of celebrity websites ranging from David Haselhoff to Demi Moore.  

Celebrity1000.com, is also owned by Jeff Burgar to this day.  And the site has been named in several decisions around “registration and use in bad faith” handed down by WIPO after complainants like Pamela Anderson, pointed out the site was misleading to internet users, and celebrity domains had been stockpiled and used to further the fan network of Celebrity1000.com and its advertising revneues.

Interestingly enough, JeffBurgar.com (which is privately registered) redirects to WIPO.org, the World Intellectual Property Organization.  I can’t say whether the same Jeff Burgar who owns charliesheen.com owns jeffburgar.com, but it’s certainly an interesting use of a name.

The fate of the domain name: charliesheen.com

While Charlie Sheen hasn’t filed a domain dispute over the name at this point, if it ends up in a legal dispute before a panel of WIPO decision-makers, it’s all but certain that charliesheen.com will be transferred to Charlie Sheen.

Recap of Charlie Sheen online

Here’s a quick recap of stories related to Charlie Sheen now to taking to the internet with his antics.

- Twitter: Since joining Twitter on March 1, 2011, Charlie Sheen who tweets using the name @charliesheen, has nearly 2 million followers at the time of this story.  Guinness World Records  announced he set a new record for fastest time to 1 million followers, which he achieved in just 25 hours and 17 minutes.

- Prank: CharlieSheen.com for $275,000:  A person posted a video of himself fooling his friend into believing that he registered charliesheen.com for $12, then tricking him into thinking they’re selling it for $275,000.  Watch how it unfolds.

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