Corporate Hubris

Posted on Wednesday 22 February 2006

Dell, which changed its name from Dell Computers in 2003, is going after a web designer, Paul Dell, because of his two websites. Dell claims that Paul Dell’s use of www.dellwebsites.com and www.dellimages.com dilute their trademark, and is suing for both transfer of the domain names as well as monetary damages. Paul Dell is a Menorca, Spain-based web designer and photographer.

Dell, which is named after founder Michael Dell, claims that their trademark “Dell” has been diluted by Paul Dell’s two websites. Dell is seeking damages of 100,000 Euros to Dell Computer, and 50,000 Euros to Dell France, as well as an additional 40,000 Euros to each Dell company and 500 Euros for each occurrence of the the word “Dell” that appears on his website.

I find it difficult to believe that Dell would be allowed to collect against Paul Dell, who does not claim to be affiliated with the computer company in any way, and should have a legal right to use his own surname on his websites. Dell Computers’ use of “Dell” as a company name should not pre-empt or preclude Paul Dell from his own use of his surname in any way.

If you want to help Paul out, a bunch of web developers have put up a website for a defense fund for Paul. You can get to it here. This story has also been mentioned in The Register.

This is similar to the earlier attempt by Microsoft to bully a young Canadian website designer and programmer, Michael Rowe, who owned the domain MikeRowesoft.com. You can read about it here.

One reason Dell is going after Paul in the European courts is that they would probably lose in the American courts. The Nissan Motor Co. v. Nissan Computer Company decision probably applies in American courts.

Good luck Paul.


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