February 10, 2011
Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott comes across as a fairly visionary guy. Immediately upon assuming the title last year, he was talking about marketing the conference to Japan, went after the entire Big 12 South in an effort to expand membership to 16 teams, eventually added Colorado and Utah to transform the league into the Pac-12 and still plans to start the Pac-12 Network. But even with his farsighted track record, I can almost guarantee Larry Scott did not foresee a legal fight involving Tupac Shakur on the horizon.
But here we are. In its ongoing branding effort in the transition from the "Pac-10" to the "Pac-12," the conference filed a claim* last week with the World Intellectual Property Organization for rights to the domain name "pac12.com," which currently features – what else? – an Amazon.com widget offering visitors "A 12Pac from Tupac," a collection of MP3 downloads of a dozen albums by the dead rapper. The page title: "Tupac Lives!"
For the record, you can get to the league's current site, Pac-10.org, by typing in "Pac-10.com," but not "Pac10.org" or "Pac10.com," which redirect to a generic placeholder site despite the fact that the Pac-10 actually owns both. The URLs "Pac-12.com," "Pac-12.org" and "Pac12.org" are all registered to Bet-R Sites, LLC (host to the sublime Quotable Les Miles, among a handful of other sites), and all redirect to the same blank white screen. Clearly, the Pac-10/12 simply must have Pac12.com.
As for that site, the domain was initially created in July 2005, and the current owner's registration expires in six months. Whether it's ever been used as anything other than an obscure, mercantilist shrine to Tupac, I don't know. But it was last updated on Feb. 1 – a day before the Pac-10 filed its complaint with the WIPO, likely in an attempt to keep the conference from claiming the site as dormant and/or abandoned. I'm a fake doctor, not a lawyer, so I won't speculate on the possible outcome of an intellectual property case. But these domain squatters, man, they're harder than they look.
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