Monday, August 6, 2001

Lingle, Hirono
unite against

The political foes are seeking
to gain control of Web addresses
bearing their names

By Tim Ruel

Linda Lingle and Mazie Hirono work for opposing political parties, but they share a common goal: They want their names back.

Lingle, chairwoman of the Republican Party of Hawaii and an expected candidate for state governor in 2002, wants the rights to the Web address bearing her name,

Lt. Gov. Hirono, a Democrat running for governor, wants the rights to

Local research firm Mattson Sunderland Research & Planning Associates Inc. acquired the rights to both names last year. The firm's president is Harry A. Mattson, who has worked on the campaign for Honolulu Mayor Jeremy Harris.

Harris is running for governor on the Democratic ticket. Mattson's firm has also registered, although the Harris campaign did not authorize it, said city spokeswoman Carol Costa. Costa said she did not know why Mattson had registered the name, or whether Harris was seeking to get the rights. Costa would only say that the Harris campaign wants to build some kind of Web presence.

Incidentally, JeremyHarris. com is already taken by a San Francisco photographer of the same name.

Lingle's campaign had previously retrieved the rights to from Mattson, said Lingle campaign manager Bob Awana. But the campaign was not aware that Mattson had also registered the name When told, Awana said: "We want everything back that has Linda Lingle's name on it."

Mattson said his firm registered the Web addresses simply because they were available. Mattson hasn't turned over the ownership of because the Lingle campaign never specifically asked for it.

The only other names currently held by Mattson Sunderland are and Hirono found it curious that no other names were registered. Nobody in the mayor's race. Nobody on a federal campaign trail. Just those who are running for governor in Hawaii.

"What a coincidence," said Hirono. She declined to speculated about Mattson's intentions.

"Some people would consider this a campaign trick," said attorney Jay Fidell, who is the Webmaster for the Hawaii Republican party. Fidell originally found had been registered by Mattson.

Hirono said she is still negotiating to get the site,, and has posted a Web site at, registered last year by her campaign.

Mattson declined to comment about Hirono's Web address, referring calls to local attorney, Allen K. Hoe. He could not be reached for comment Friday.

Partly out of frustration over the ordeal, Hirono earlier this year backed a new state law that purports to broaden existing federal laws against the practice known as cybersquatting. It's illegal to register the name of a person or company for a dishonest use, such as extorting money or misleading people.

In May, movie star Kevin Spacey won the rights to a Web site bearing his misspelled name,, through a decision by the National Arbitration Forum. Renowned cybersquatter John Zuccarini -- who has also registered,, and -- had registered the site and was using it to draw Internet traffic to Web advertisements for goods and services. The arbitrator in the case, a retired judge, ruled that the maneuver was done in bad faith -- a key to cybersquatting disputes.

In Hawaii, recent Web name dispute cases include:

>> IslandAir Inc. won the rights to from Alton L. Flanders of Massachusetts.

>> Food Express Inc., a North Carolina company, lost its case to take over from Frank Harwell of Honolulu.

>> Pizza Hut Inc., based in Dallas, won the right to from RJ Inc. of Honolulu.

Hirono said she supported the new state law to help Hawaii's businesses from falling victim to cybersquatting. After all, she has lost the right to her name more than once. and are registered to Scott Loughrey, a Baltimore resident who has registered the names of many public officials across the country, including and Loughrey has been known to redirect Web users looking for a candidate's site to the Web sites of their political opponents, and he freely admits to asking for money -- sometimes thousands of dollars -- for the rights to the Web addresses.

Loughrey said he believes the federal laws against cybersquatting are unconstitutional. The government basically awards ownership of common names to people who are popular, he said.

Loughrey runs a Web site,, that serves as a bulletin board for comments about political figures. Loughrey said he learned about Hirono through research on the Web. Registering Hirono's name seemed like a good idea at the time, he said.

"I consider it an asset," he said. "I thought it was a more valuable asset than it was."

Hirono said she has never tried to contact Loughrey. Meanwhile, she has no case to use the new state law against Mattson, because the firm hasn't asked for money or otherwise used the site in bad faith.

The state law, signed by Hirono in June, provides for punitive and compensatory damages for cybersquatting. The law, however, has drawn criticism from some local attorneys.

Mark Bernstein, chairman of the intellectual property law section for the Hawaii State Bar Association, said the new law doesn't add much to current federal laws. He noted he doesn't actively oppose Hirono's law either.

Cybersquatting disputes are happening less often in Hawaii, he said. Most people would rather settle out of court than hire an attorney.

"The reason people were doing it was they heard through the newspaper that people were getting rich," Bernstein said. "The perception has changed."

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