PhoneBoy Rants About: frys.com
Now, onto a bad customer service experience: Fry's Electronics. Well okay, I won't talk about the bad customer service at Fry's that anyone who lives in California knows about. I'm more interested in the recent decision made by US District Judge Charles Legge to allow Fry's Electronics to take the domain name frys.com, which was registered by Frenchy Frys, a distributor of food vending systems. A lawsuit was filed in July of 1995 by Fry's Electronics to get this name from Frency Frys owner David Peter. Frys Electronics, the big electronics superstore in California, has been in business since 1985, and is fairly well known within the Silicon Valley and certain areas of Southern California. Frenchy Fry's, on the other hand, has only been around a couple of years and is in a completely different business than Fry's is in.
The lawsuit seeks to prosecute David Peter and others for racketeering and trademark infringement. The decision by Legge was filed as a "default judgement" on February 22nd, 1997, which means that no trial was held. David Peter feels his case did not go to trial due to his own behaviour (Legge said something similar about why he filed it as a "default judgement"), but that he still feels he owns the domain because, well, he paid for it and the courts shouldn't have the right to take something that he paid for. Peter has filed for appeals and is awaiting his day in court. As of July 18th, 1997, the domain currently belongs to Fry's Electronics -- not David Peter. I guess the "default" judgement was carried out.
I think that Mr. Peter should definately get a trial, though it's difficult to determine who to root for in this case. On one hand, you have David Peter, who some say is trying to extort money from Fry's for the domain name. One of Fry's lawyers said that Peter demanded $1 million for the name, which Peter denies. According to the San Jose Mercury News, Peter has not taken any legal oath and will not answer some key questions in a depostion with lawyers. On the other hand, you have Fry's Electronics, who has been trying to avoid a trial entirely by using certain procedural matters to gain the "default judgement" they got. And of course, we're talking about Fry's here. So it's a crap-shoot for me.
Despite the parties in this case, the issue raised by this case: "Who really owns a domain name," will probably be decided by this case and cases like it. So keep an eye on these domain name disputes. Check out http://www.reignyourdomain.org/cases.html for information on the frys.com case and cases like it.