When you start sueing your fans, you know its all over

A ex-student I taught and good friend of mine, Harry Jones won his WIPO trademark case against Jonathan Ive and Apple inc recently. Yes the Jonathan Ive who now works on a lot of Apple products. For years Harry has owned the domain names JonthanIve.com and jonyive.com. Unlike most Harry bought the domain names because he loved the work of the designer with the same name. Harry was a fan and ran a fan site to honour his work. Unfortunately Apple and Jonthan Ive had other plans and put a lot of pressure on Harry to give up the domain name. I remember last time I saw Harry, he had a recording of Jonathan himself asking for the domain name. He also had many calls from Apple people trying to play good and bad cop with him. It was all very underhand and to be honest makes me even less of a Apple Fan.

Actually I was talking to Tara Hunt the other night about her presentation at thinking digital and her new book. And cited Apple as a company doing everything wrong but still loved by many. Well I fell straight into the trap, it would seem because in her book she talks about Apple and says Apple provide a fantastic customer experience. So much so that they can pass on everything else and still come out smelling of roses. And you know what that's just not right in my book.

Apple and Jonathan Ive put increased pressure on Harry to give over the domain name, and who's reporting on it? Hardly anyone. Will this convince anyone that Apple do bad things like all businesses? Nope. Anyway, I'm sure Harry is much happier now he's not being harassed by Apple people. The Wipo decision document makes for some interesting reading, some of the press can't let go of the money thing, its actually quite simple..

The Respondent has demanded USD400,000 for transfer of the disputed domain names, even though he had previously been offered USD10,000 by Apple Inc. This demonstrates that the disputed domain names were registered primarily for the purpose of selling, renting or otherwise transferring the disputed domain name registrations to the Complainant, for valuable consideration in excess of the Respondent’s out of pocket costs.

What would you do if Apple phoned you up and started bugging you about selling the domain?

  1. Hand over for there first price?
  2. Give it up for free because you love Apple so much
  3. Make up some figure on the spot and see what they say.

Now the answer may seem like number 2 for most of you Apple fans, but actually number 3. Its also silly to suggest that the domain name was primarily for selling when there bugging him about selling it. I'm not selling Cubicgarden.com but if the cubicgarden corp phone me up and start throwing around cash, you bet your dollar I'll be suggesting silly prices just like Harry did.

Good on you Harry for standing up to these bully boy tactics. Matt Mason said sueing your fans means you got no business model. Well Apple and Ive have been very short sighted, they could have given Harry even more material and maybe guided Harry who was in it for the fandom. So Tara, this has got to be a example of where the Apple approach is just bad for business. Shame on you!

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Author: Ianforrester

Senior firestarter at BBC R&D, emergent technology expert and serial social geek event organiser.