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BidPal battles 'cybersquatter' over online domains

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BidPal.com, BidPal.org, BidPal.info, BidPal.biz and BidPal.mobi—not one of the online domain names belongs to BidPal Inc.

The Indianapolis-based fundraising-software developer claims it is the victim of “cybersquatting,” according to a federal lawsuit it filed earlier this month.

BidPal on Feb. 5 sued the companies InterMediaOne and InterMediaOne-AGM, which hold the rights to the domains.

The websites are “parked”—meaning the domains are registered but not developed. The BidPal sites InterMediaOne controls are for sale, online records show.

InterMediaOne first began snapping up the web addresses in January 2000 by claiming BidPal.com. The company claimed BidPal.org the following year.

BidPal, the company, did not incorporate until 2007.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office signed off on BidPal’s trademark the following year.

It was too late for the legal protection to apply to the existing BidPal domains InterMediaOne owned, leaving BidPal to resort to using www.bidpalnetwork.com as its website.

Then InterMediaOne acquired three more BidPal domains in 2009: BidPal.info, BidPal.biz and BidPal.mobi. The company also renewed the existing domains—after BidPal registered its trademark, BidPal says.

The company says InterMediaOne owns the domains “with a bad-faith intent to profit from BidPal’s substantial reputation and goodwill.”

Company officials declined to comment for this story.

BidPal says in its lawsuit that it tried to contact InterMediaOne and its principal, Peter Peterre. But the phone number he listed on his domain registrations was for Washington, D.C.’s directory assistance. BidPal believes Peterre may be in Washington or Florida, but the company is unsure.

BidPal does not specify the financial reimbursements it seeks. It does state that it wants the court to turn over control of the five websites to BidPal and bar Peterre and his companies from registering for any other BidPal domains.

BidPal is led by Chairman and CEO Scott Webber, a stalwart in the local tech community. He is best known as the former president and CEO of Software Artistry Inc., which in 1995 became the first Indiana software firm to go public.

Tivoli Systems, an IBM company, bought Software Artistry for $200 million in 1998.

Webber told IBJ in early 2010 that he thought BidPal could eventually achieve $100 million or more in annual revenue. The company's revenue shot to $10.2 million in 2012 from $231,000 in 2009.

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