The Canadian Association for Renewable Energies is one of four defendants served with a claim for $50,000 in federal court, for ownership of internet domains which contain the word ‘geo-exchange.’ The term ‘geoexchange’ is a U.S. trademark, and the claim alleges that the defendants were making a commercial profit from use of the term.
“Ignoring the fact that the domains were all designed as information sites for consumers to explain how geothermal heat pumps work, we offered to transfer ownership of the domains to the plaintiff, for free, if they had dropped the claim before a significant amount of legal expenses were incurred,” says executive director Bill Eggertson, who was also named personally as a defendant. “They refused, which clearly indicates their motive in pursuing this claim.”
Eggertson had been a volunteer director of the Canadian GeoExchange Coalition before he was removed by electric utilities, and the domains remained available for three years after he suggested that they be registered. He finally registered them, to complement the 34 other internet domains administered by the association to disseminate information on various renewable energy technologies.
Prior to filing the suit, the plaintiff never asked for ownership of the domains to be transferred, nor for any of the sites to point to other domains. A number of ‘good faith’ measures were taken after the claim was served, and Eggertson says the costs in defending the claim in federal court will seriously damage c.a.r.e.’s operations, including its daily newsfeed and its certified green-hosting service.