Domain dispute over Westgate Resort timeshare

From the US, a domain dispute involving a disaffected customer of Westgate Resort who began posting online criticism of Westgate Resorts’ time-share business practices, but subsequently, and predictably, raised the ire of the aforementioned Westgate Resort.

Robert Beaudoin insists he’s doing nothing wrong with the domain name – westgate The Orlando Sentinel says, “Beaudoin’s home page contains a message about the site’s purpose, notes that it isn’t affiliated with Westgate and invites postings from others on a variety of Westgate-related topics.” It’s a place where people can vent their spleen.

Meanwhile, Westgate disagrees, with lawyers representing them accusing Beaudoin of “violating the company’s copyright and trademark protections and demanding he surrender the domain name within three days or face ‘available legal remedies.'”

However Elliott Zimmerman, a Broward County lawyer who specialises in legal disputes involving the internet, believes Beaudoin may be OK. The lawyer claims as long as Beaudoin is using the Web site to complain and not to profit, he is probably operating within his rights.

“‘A gripe site is permissible, so long as they are using it only as a forum to criticize,’ said Elliott Zimmerman, a Broward County lawyer who specializes in legal disputes involving the Internet. ‘The issue is whether he is taking money. If he is using it to express his opinion, and he is not taking money, this is a legitimate use.'”

And Michael Froomkin, a law professor at the University of Miami, agreed, saying the issue is whether Beaudoin is attempting to do business through a Web site using the Westgate name.

Expect this one to be sorted in court.

For the full article in the Orlando Sentinel, see,0,5407304.story