Anyone who has ever busted a gut laughing at Animal House or any of the Vacation movies owes a big guffawed thanks to the Harvard Lampoon, an undergraduate humor publication founded in 1876 at Harvard University that inspired the creation of National Lampoon. The bastion of wit that is the Harvard Lampoon credits itself with inventing the word “pizzazz,” and is also the source of one of my dad’s favorite groan-inducing jokes of all time: “Did you get a hair cut?” “No, I got all of them cut” (my dad, of course, being almost as old as the magazine itself).
Unfortunately, anyone familiar with domain name dispute resolution procedures (as in, all of us here at FairWinds) knows how tough it can be to assert rights to a generic term domain name. Despite being the longest-running humor magazine in history, and despite being from Harvard, the Harvard Lampoon was unsuccessful in its attempt to claim the domain name Lampoon.com from the Florida-based Reflex Publishing via UDRP. The three-person World Intellectual Property Organization panel did not find that there was sufficient evidence to show that Reflex Publishing had registered the domain with the intention of profiting from and exploiting the Harvard Lampoon’s rights to the “Lampoon” mark.
It’s worth noting, of course, that the longest-running humor magazine in history didn’t quite get around to actually registering that mark until 2000, two years after Reflex Publishing had registered the domain name. (Fun fact: the Harvard Lampoon actually uses the term “Harvard” under a license with the university.) Additionally, all the exhibits that the Harvard Lampoon provided to demonstrate its longstanding common law trademark rights to the “Lampoon” mark – magazine covers, book covers and the like – all displayed the phrase “The Harvard Lampoon,” not “The Lampoon.”
Of course, there is always the chance that this filing was actually just a parody of a real UDRP complaint.