This is serious. Via Mack.
There's a blog residing in www.visa.com.my and it does not belong to Visa - yes, that Visa you have in your wallet. Turns out that the company is now demanding from blogger Blewtooth, said owner of visa.com.my, to surrender the domain name as it infringes Visa's international trademark.
While I'm not an expert on the subject, I have had some dealings with our local trademark office down at Dayabumi, KL. Technically speaking, nobody can have an exclusive right to a generic term. Which means to say that if you went to any trademark offices anywhere in the world to register, say the name "Shit" for your branding of fecal by-products, you wouldn't get very far. Generic designations are not registrable nor protectable.
However, if a trademark happens to be a generic term (or an ordinary, dictionary word) like Visa, or Apple, or Tiger but has been used long enough in a particular market to be considered a famous mark and a well-known commercial name in that market, the common law in that market will honour it and thereby protect the trademark from being diluted or abused by another commercial entity which tries to ride on the success of an established mark. This law also safeguards consumers from being duped. Which basically means that visa.com.my doesn't stand a very good chance of winning this one, even if it is not a commercial entity. The court would probably rule that Visa customers might be misled into thinking that Blewtooth's blog is indeed an official publication of Visa the company.
Also, despite a few well-meaning readers who suggest that Blewtooth requests compensation to release the domain name, it is probably not a good idea. Visa's lawyers will probably bite you in the ass with their cybersquatting watchdog and say that you intend to profit in bad faith from the goodwill of a trademark belonging to someone else.
I know how tempting it must be to be a small guy standing up the the establishment. I often romanticise the notion of being David against the Goliaths of the world, that is, until reality gives me a kick in the groin. Reminds me of the time when I had lawyers breathing down my neck over my blog. Despite having friends and lawyers assure me that its nothing more than an empty threat, I decided to let it go.
My sympathies go out to Blewtooth. But think about it, dude. Do you really need the grief?
UPDATE: There's a precedent here!