A web property is any proof of an organization’s or individual’s presence on the Internet. Examples include a website, a blog, social media accounts, and the like. Anything that can identify or be associated with someone on the Internet is considered a web property.
You can think of a web property as your real property like your home or car—things that are under your name and you can mortgage or sell should you need money.
Read More about a “Web Property”
Like real property, web properties have documentation that serves as proof of ownership, too.
Proving You Own a Website
Every website owner registers the domain that serves as its host on the Domain Name System (DNS)—the Internet’s phonebook. The domain name’s registration or WHOIS record is the registrant’s proof of website ownership.
Companies are identified by their websites. That is why they take care of these against cyber attacks and infringement. In the domain world, organizations rely on the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP) for web property protection.
Uniform Domain Name Resolution Policy
The UDRP, adopted by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) on 26 August 1999, sets the terms and conditions for domain name-related disputes between two parties—the domain’s registrant or owner and someone who wishes to claim it as his or her own.
Over the years, big brands and famous personalities have filed UDRP cases against what they considered copyright infringers. Some won, but others failed. The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), which helps resolve domain name disputes, takes care of hundreds of cases each month. In 2020, it settled a total of 4,204 domain name disputes.
Proving You Own a Social Media Account
Proving ownership of a social media account is more challenging than doing so for a website. There are no laws like the UDRP, which clearly defines what constitutes infringement. On social networks, whoever created a Facebook page, for instance, is considered its owner. That makes it problematic when someone else like an actor’s assistant or employee created his or her page.
Famous Web Property Disputes
Over the years, we have seen tons of web property disputes. While some get resolved amicably, others turn ugly.
Microsoft versus MikeRoweSoft
We all know what Microsoft is. But did you know that a site named MikeRoweSoft.com once existed on the Web? It was the website of a web design business run by then-high schooler Mike Rowe.
Microsoft took legal action against Rowe in 2001 after he refused to take the US$10 settlement offer and asked for US$10,000 instead. The company declined and sent Rowe a 25-page cease-and-desist letter, claiming he was cybersquatting. Rowe went to press, giving Microsoft one of its worst public relations nightmares. Eventually, the parties reached an out-of-court settlement, where Rowe received an Xbox, among other things.
Uzi Nissan versus Nissan Motor Company, Ltd.
Nissan.com owner Uzi Nissan has been battling the car manufacturing giant since the 1980s. In 1999, the car manufacturer sued Nissan for US$10 million after he registered the nissan.com domain name.
In December 2002, Nissan received a final injunction from the district court to keep his domain. But he continues to battle a never-ending appeals process until today.
PhoneDog versus Kravitz
PhoneDog is a web-based company and former employee of Lenny Kravitz. PhoneDog created Kravitz’s Twitter account but continued running it under a different name when he stopped working for the personality. On 3 December 2012, Kravitz announced that he and PhoneDog had reached an agreement, allowing him to keep his Twitter account and followers.
While the laws governing web property ownership continue to change, it is comforting to know that not all cases end in ugly courtroom battles. In fact, most parties agree to settle their differences out of court.