Dallas Cowboys Give up Play for Cowboys.com - Fumble or Touchdown?
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I've called the Dallas Cowboys stupid for passing up Cowboys.com, even at $275,000. But it might not have been a foolish play. After all, the team's current web site, DallasCowboys.com, features just about everything a rabid fan could want and then some. You can get news on the team, tickets to the games (there's even a ticket exchange), a link to the official Dallas Cowgirls cheerleader site, a store, a fan forum...it goes on and on. Do they really need Cowboys.com?
Maybe not - and maybe, as more than one observer has suggested, the Dallas Cowboys are willing to put that money into legal fees to grab the name under trademark law rather than buy it at an auction. I'm not a lawyer, but I don't see that they'd have much of a case. The word "cowboys" has a long history as a generic term, and the site itself has been used for more than a decade to help sell Western wear and related items.
But other teams own the generics for their names. In basketball, the Charlotte Bobcats paid a bobcat breeder about $50,000 for bobcats.com just a month before Cowboys.com went up for sale. Some of the traffic going to Cowboys.com, it has been speculated, is already from Dallas Cowboys fans looking for the team's web site. Wouldn't that imply that owning the generic would be a good move for the team?
Some insist that it would be great brand protection. But that brings up another question: is their brand the Cowboys, or the Dallas Cowboys? One can argue that it's the latter. In that case, Cowboys.com might not be worth that kind of money to the team. It's even possible that the team's lawyers could work out a deal with the current owner of the site to put up a link for any confused Dallas Cowboys fans - for a suitable fee, of course. Meanwhile, the team's lawyers just made a lot of domainers who are football fans - but not fans of the Dallas Cowboys - very happy indeed.
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