SBJ/March 26 - April 1, 2001/This Weeks Issue

NCAA targets betting sites using trademarked names

The NCAA wants to send a warning to potential cybersquatters, or those individuals or companies who register or use a Web site domain name with the intention of profiting from a trademarked name. The association will actively go after them to shut down their sites and seek both the return of the domain name and monetary damages.

Earlier this month, the NCAA filed two lawsuits against groups that registered Web site names that use the NCAA and March Madness trademarked names for Internet gambling sites.

The suits were filed after attempts to resolve the issue out of court failed, said Scott Bearby, assistant general counsel to the NCAA.

The NCAA already has received a temporary restraining order against BBF International, an offshore online gambling company based in Haiti, to stop running its ncaa-march-madness.com and ncaabettinglines.com sites. The suit was filed in an Alexandria, Va., district court on March 15. The two sites depicted student athlete likenesses as part of a promotional home page and then linked users to another site that enabled them to wager online for NCAA tournament games, Bearby said.

A court hearing for an injunction, return of the domain names and monetary damages was scheduled for last week.

A similar suit, which was filed March 16 in an Indianapolis district court against SBG Global and its representative, Jeffrey Postal, and Inovasys Inc. and its representative, Richard Mendelson, was scheduled for a first hearing last Friday on the NCAA's request for a temporary restraining order for the sites www.wwwncaa.com, www.wwwbetncaa.com and www.wwwmarchmadness.com. Postal, who works for SBG, registered the domain names through a company called Network Solutions Inc., then employed Inovasys and Mendelson to host the Web sites and their content.

The sites already have stopped running content and currently read "This page is under construction."

Bearby said there are "dozens and dozens" of cybersquatters improperly using the NCAA trademark and that the NCAA regularly looks at new domain registrations as part of an overall strategy to combat cybersquatting. He said the NCAA has filed a number of other cybersquatting lawsuits in the past but the BBF and SBG cases were the first to require a request for a temporary restraining order.

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