Just when you thought cybersquatting was getting dull because WIPO just handed over every domain to whoever was richer or more famous, along comes one of those great examples that makes you realise how insane the whole system has become.
It was about, ooh, 15 months ago that WIPO decided that not only were big companies automatically entitled to domains featuring their name - even if the existing owners had a valid reason for owning it - but that said companies also had a right to domains that looked like the company name (have phonetics come into it yet?). Suddenly misspelling became not an intangible human error but an intellectual property.
The best example was case D2000-0441 when news service Reuters took charge of the following domains, all owned by Global Net 2000: reters.com, ruters.com, reuers.com, wwwreuters.com and reutersnews.com.
Thanks to the resolution rules - UDRP - the "logic" was that since Global Net 2000 was clearly trying to get something on the back of Reuters then it follows that Reuters ought to own all the domains from then on. Yes, yes, we know.
Except, except. One Mr Stanley Reters living in Ontario in Canada did a search for his namesake domain and found it had gone. When he checked the owner's details and found it was Reuters, he decided to send it a letter and ask the multi-billion pound corporation if it would hand it over thankyouverymuch.
Reuters replied saying: "Mr Reters, Thank you for contacting Reuters regarding this issue. It is one of our policies to register common misspellings of the Reuters domain name, and unfortunately the name Reters is too similar to our own name, so we will not be relinquishing it.
Hoping you can understand our position in this matter.
Now, Stanley isn't exactly going to try to take the domain off such a powerful organisation because he will lose and will no doubt spend a load of money and effort in doing so.
However, the question does remain: can someone explain why exactly Reuters has more right to www.reters.com that a Mr Stanley Reters? Because we can't think of it. ®