The domain battle between Anthony Abraham and Activision over ModernWarfare3.com has come to an end.
A three-member panel of the National Arbitration Forum has ordered the domain name transferred.
Earlier this year Anthony Abraham launched an unofficial fan site for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, attracting thousands of Facebook fans in a matter of days.
In late June, Abraham began lashing out at Activision, the publisher of Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3, in a series of statements and videos that appeared on the ModernWarfare3.com website, and throwing support instead to Electronic Arts’ Battlefield 3.
According to the decision posted online, Abraham argued that the term “modern warfare” is generic and is not monopolized by Activision.
Activision was required to prove that modernwarfare3.com is identical or confusingly similar to its trademark, that Abraham has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the domain; and the domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.
The three-member panel ruled in Activision’s favor today, having established all three elements required under the ICANN Policy.
Here is a copy of the decision by the National Arbitration Forum so you can read all the details.
Although I track domain disputes filed with the National Arbitration Forum and the World Intellectual Property Organization, I didn’t find out about the dispute through their online databases, instead I found out about the dispute when I paid a visit to ModernWarfare3.com.
As of today, ModernWarfare3.com is back to its old format online, but with a twist. Sitting on the home page is a copy of the complaint (read here) the owner received.
Now begins the UDRP (Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy), which was adopted by ICANN in the late nineties.
The complaint cost Activision $2,600 USD to file for a three-member panel.
The 11-page document, includes among other things, reasons by Activision as to why the respondent has no right or legitimate interest to the name.
Activision states, “It appears that the Respondent supports the game Battlefield from the game developer Electronic Arts (“EA”). EA is one of Complainant’s principal competitors in the video game industry, and Battlefield game competes in the marketplace with Complainant’s MODERN WARFARE games and its other military-themed shooter games in the CALL OF DUTY series.”
WARNING — THIS WEBSITE IS UNDER SEIGE, read a message at the top of the homepage up until days ago.
The anonymous owner of the web address ModernWarfare3.com, has taken their sense of humor and anger one step further, by re-directing the domain to battlefield.com/battlefied3.
The redirection started after the site was suspended yesterday by web hosting provider iPage.
It’s unknown why iPage suspended the website, but a Google search shows iPage has shutdown other sites in the past after receiving complaints. It could also be that the website needed its own dedicated server due to internet traffic, something the owner may not have been willing to pay for.
The owner of ModernWarfare3.com is lashing out at Activision, the publisher of Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3, in a series of statements and videos that appear on the ModernWarfare3.com website, and throwing support instead to Electronic Arts’ Battlefield 3 due out two weeks before the release of Modern Warfare 3 this fall.
Up until yesterday the site had been taken offline. Before going offline the website was anything but negative about Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3, racking up over 7,000 “Likes” on Facebook, as the owner looked to be building out a massive online fan website, albeit a site that was confusingly similar to Activision’s own MW3 site.
Now the tone on the website has changed. In what seems to have been prompted by Activision’s lawyers.
WARNING — THIS WEBSITE IS UNDER SEIGE, reads a message at the top of the homepage. Instead of an official trailer video, a video called “Modern Warfare 3” sucks runs on the homepage.
The site’s owner has also updated the disclaimer at the bottom of the site to say, “Modern Warfare 3 .com is a 100% unofficial fan site dedicated to the Modern Warfare series. IF you haven’t figured it out yet, this site is a parody of Modern Warfare 3. Call of Duty official site. Modern Warfare is crap. On November 8, 2011, the most over-hyped first-person action series of all-time returns with the copy and paste sequel to the lackluster Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. Check out the E3 2011 gameplay demo featuring the Black Tuesday level for a look at the epic fail of the campaign. Pre-Order Call of Duty MW3 Today for Xbox 360, PS3, and PC to secure exclusive bonuses only available online for Modern Warfare 3 fanboys who don’t know that Battlefield 3 is the better game.”
Click on other links on the site such as Media, and additional YouTube videos explaining why Modern Warfare 3 will suck are posted.
The Intel page is much of the same, with testimonials that say things like, “Been there , done that. NEXT! The new kid on the block Battlefield 3.”
I’ve reached out to the site’s owner for comment and will update this post if I hear back.
As far as the dramatic change to a parody site showing support for EA’s Battlefield 3, the only conclusion that I can reach is that Activision has contacted the owner about the domain name and website. While that’s clearly speculation, if they weren’t in touch before, they might be in touch soon.
EA may win the battle when it comes to intellectual property online. The company already owns and operates Battlefield.com and recently acquired Battlefield.net. It also owns Battlefield3.com.
Activision, as I’ve pointed out before, doesn’t own ModernWarfare.com or ModernWarfare3.com. One can only imagine the online games that would be played if Activision decides to release a Modern Warfare 4 in the future. As I’ve noted in the past, ModernWarfare4.com is one of the most interesting domain registrations by far. It’s yet another domain not owned by Activision, but in this case, the owners made news headlines when they threatened to hurt a clown if the game development studio behind Modern Warfare, Infinity Ward, didn’t play ball with their demands.
Electronic Arts (EA) already owns and operates Battlefield.com, a domain name it acquired in 2007 after using Marksmen, a service used by larger companies that describes itself as the go-to-firm for corporations who want to keep their identity and costs on the down low.
EA took official ownership of the domain Battlefield.com in late July of 2007 according to WHOIS records, and now the company has acquired the web address, Battlefield.net, as it looks to take on Activision’s Modern Warfare 3 with its launch of Battlefield 3 in October 2011, two weeks before Modern Warfare 3 hits stores.
The WHOIS records for Battlefield.net changed owners this week to EA.
Registrant: Electronic Arts Inc.
209 Redwood Shores Parkway
Redwood City, CA 94065