It only took 20 years, but Steve Jobs’ estate finally owns the rights to SteveJobs.com. It won its claim after claiming the previous owner was “cybersquatting” by holding onto the trademark, but doing nothing (good) with it.
The previous owner of the website was a South Korean man. He claimed that he has been going by the name of Steve Jobs Kim since 1999.
The Steve Jobs Archive, LLC made the case against Steve Jobs Kim. Steve Jobs’ widow Laurene Powell Jobs set up this organization after her husband’s death. It filed a complaint with Forum, a group formerly known as the National Arbitration Forum. This organization provides arbitration and mediation services to businesses.
A three-person National Arbitration Forum panel looked into the case and decided that the owner of the site was trading off Steve Jobs’ name. The group concluded that the site gave the impression that it was authorized by the Steve Jobs or his successors. It offered consulting and technology news.
The panel suggested that people engaged with it because of the suggestion that this was related to Apple’s famous co-founder. It continued that this dodgy use of Steve’s name was there to “lure consumers and solicit business.” As a result, it constitutes “bad faith use.”
The case over SteveJobs.com
The case against SteveJobs.com revolved around the idea that Steve Jobs’ personal name has taken on a sufficient level of familiarity that it has become a trademark. As part of the case by the Steve Jobs Archive, they submitted evidence that Jobs’ name had been linked to Apple more than 10,000 times in articles prior to December 21, 1999. Steve Jobs Kim registered the domain on December 21, 1999.
If you’re interested, there’s a long, excellent user comment on the story (via DomainNameWire) discussing it. The comment describes how “troubling” the decision is — and why. It comes down to not fulfilling the necessary criteria for seizing the name.
Neither Apple nor Jobs’ family have marketed official products under his name since he died. (With the possible exception of the Steve Jobs biography by Walter Isaacson.) Frankly, you’d hope that anyone planning to hire a consultant named Steve Jobs would at least check the news before assuming that they are the late Apple co-founder.
At time of writing, SteveJobs.com relocates to a holding page. It includes an email address, seemingly for its South Korean former owner. The website no longer contains references to consulting. It’s not clear what, if anything, Steve Jobs’ estate will do with the website. Some kind of Steve Jobs archive would be great, although that seems unlikely.
Cult of Mac has reached out to the previous owner of SteveJobs.com for comment.