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The Story Behind CharlotteBobcats.com
June 4, 2012 3:52 PM   Subscribe

"If you go into a Web browser and type the full city-nickname combination and add a .com, 27 of those URLs will take you to the official team page." Not so for CharlotteBobcats.com. (autoplaying audio)
posted by reenum (40 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite

 
In early 2011, he filmed a man in an empty room attempting to open a suitcase. There was just one camera angle, and no dialogue, and it lasted 25 minutes.

"We put that video on loop on the website, and it got like 15,000 hits in a few days," he said. "And later on we discovered on a bunch of sports blogs that people were talking about it, and they were wondering, 'What's going on with the Charlotte Bobcats website?' And it was awesome, because eventually as you went down on the message boards, you'd see they were actually talking about the video, and some of the people would watch it all the way through. All 25 minutes. And the guy doesn't do anything!"

As Rickey and Austin began making experimental films, they put them on the site. They even designed a logo, a white windowless monolith in a black box. There was an appealing practical aspect to using the site, which was the instant, unwitting audience that came to the site every day in large numbers. But Saya and Kim are pranksters at heart, and they delighted in the artistic absurdity of the situation.


I love everything about this story.
posted by mediareport at 4:10 PM on June 4, 2012 [12 favorites]


Leave it to the Bobcats to have to deal with the only true domain squatter worthy of the name, complete with awesome, bizarro art.
posted by Rodrigo Lamaitre at 4:11 PM on June 4, 2012 [4 favorites]


So do the actual Charlotte Bobcats have any kind of legal recourse in this situation?
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 4:11 PM on June 4, 2012


No.
posted by mediareport at 4:12 PM on June 4, 2012


Interesting, but if you put these guys on a basketball court, they wouldn't be that much worse than the Bobcats, anyway.
posted by MoonOrb at 4:12 PM on June 4, 2012 [8 favorites]


So do the actual Charlotte Bobcats have any kind of legal recourse in this situation?

Depends on whether they ever decide to field an actual basketball team or not.
posted by Rodrigo Lamaitre at 4:13 PM on June 4, 2012 [18 favorites]


In early 2003, Austin and his dad, Michael (who was casually interested in the business of the Internet), saw an article in the Charlotte Observer listing three potential names for the new NBA team.

"Two of them were completely absurd," Saya told me. "And then there was one called the Bobcats. And we were all just thinking, This guy owns a television network. Why wouldn't he name a team after himself? Bob Johnson. Bob-cats."


The word 'hero' is thrown about too often these days...

and yet it almost came to mind here.

Almost. But I went with 'assholes of the kind I respect.'

(I also love that everybody on Metafilter has already started the 'isn't this damaging to the brand? what brand?' joking that I've been doing in my head. Seriously, this is the type of thing that makes me respect the team more. Because where else you going to go?)
posted by MCMikeNamara at 4:15 PM on June 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


Do you mean to say you don't think the content of charlottebobcats.com is funny or do you mean that you don't think it's funny that two people are squatting the domain and posting ridiculous things thereby trolling the Charlotte Bobcats?

Because I find both amusing.
posted by d1rge at 4:18 PM on June 4, 2012


Perhaps add to the esteemed list of culture jammers. But a Wikipedia presence might ruin it, too easy to figure out.
posted by stbalbach at 4:20 PM on June 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


So do the actual Charlotte Bobcats have any kind of legal recourse in this situation?

God, I hope not.
posted by Tomorrowful at 4:21 PM on June 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


Every stinkin time I search the internet for bobcats names Charlotte, this stupid site gets me.
posted by orme at 4:24 PM on June 4, 2012 [9 favorites]


Entertaining. It led me to Mr. Kim Says which in turn led me to this awesome video - A Brief History of John Baldessari, narrated by Tom Waits.
posted by unliteral at 4:25 PM on June 4, 2012 [5 favorites]


Fun facts:
Rickey Kim is currently the style and fashion director for Far East Movement. Yes, the "Like A G6" people. If it wasn't for his site Evil Monito, I would probably be in a very different place in my life. It's worth checking out, in addition to Rickey's blog that unliteral linked to above.

And I don't think they're technically domain squatting. In all the times I've spoken with these two (a ton...), they've gone out of their way to call their project "thecharlottebobcats.com" which does sound really silly in conversation. Effective marketing, if you ask me ;)
posted by raihan_ at 4:34 PM on June 4, 2012


This immediately reminded me of Nissan.com, also from North Carolina.
posted by sciurus at 4:42 PM on June 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


If the Bobcats have a trademark on their name, which they likely do, I think they can have the domain surrendered to them, should they decide to get obstreperous about it.
posted by Malor at 4:44 PM on June 4, 2012


If the Bobcats have a trademark on their name, which they likely do, I think they can have the domain surrendered to them, should they decide to get obstreperous about it.

Trademarks are limited to field of business (see Apple Records and Apple Computer pre settlement for example). Are you suggesting there's a risk of confusion between this and a sports team?
posted by jaduncan at 4:48 PM on June 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


They're a professional basketball team, making them a business like any other. They'll have the same trademark powers that any other business would.

Remember, domain names are handled by an arbitrator, and they almost always rule for someone with a trademark on a name.
posted by Malor at 4:54 PM on June 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Are you suggesting there's a risk of confusion between this and a sports team?

Err, yes? I mean, this entire project is built around confusion with a sports team. The website proudly proclaims itself to be "THE OFFICIAL SITE OF THECHARLOTTEBOBCATS.COM". The authors admit to receiving a large volume of email directed at the sports team, including job applications and requests for appearances. Sports fans analyze the videos, trying to find connections to the sports team.
posted by Pyry at 4:56 PM on June 4, 2012


@Malor

Even if the other guy is a cool culture jammer? That doesn't sound right.
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 5:06 PM on June 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


It IS the official site of thecharlottebobcats.com. It is NOT the official site of The Charlotte Bobcats.
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 5:16 PM on June 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


If I were Jordan I would change the team name to Rickey Kim just to fuck with this guy.

"Rickey Kim had the worst season in NBA history after Rickey Kim suffered a 32 game losing streak. Rickey Kim ended the season with an NBA-worst record of 7-59"
posted by Ad hominem at 5:36 PM on June 4, 2012 [18 favorites]


It has been some years since I studied domain name law, but I'm not so sure the sports team is likely to prevail in a dispute in the UDRP. A general analysis of the relevant rules can be found here. In any event, I hope this amusing situation finds its way into a law school casebook.
posted by exogenous at 5:38 PM on June 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


"Rickey Kim had the worst season in NBA history after Rickey Kim suffered a 32 game losing streak. Rickey Kim ended the season with an NBA-worst record of 7-59"

Ad hominem wins the Internet for today.
posted by Rock Steady at 5:42 PM on June 4, 2012


ad hominem always wins the internet
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 6:00 PM on June 4, 2012 [8 favorites]


It's possible that the Charlotte Bobcats won't care after a while, as there's some mutterings about Charlotte reacquiring the Hornets name from New Orleans once the now-Hornets rebrand themselves. Why this name swap would happen while the Utah JAZZ still exists is beyond me.
posted by stannate at 6:00 PM on June 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


How many of you just went to register CharlotteHornets.com? Besides me.
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 6:16 PM on June 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


I've argued ever since the Hornets moved to New Orleans that New Orleans ought to take the Jazz name back and give Hornets back to Charlotte (which has Hornet's Nest as a nickname from a revolutionary war story and even has hornet's nests on the city seal). Utah could have the Bobcats name if they wanted, I suppose.
posted by hydropsyche at 6:20 PM on June 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


5 team trade: New Orleans Jazz, Charlotte Hornets, Utah Timberwolves, Minnesota Lakers. L.A. gets the Bobcats.
posted by mcstayinskool at 6:26 PM on June 4, 2012 [6 favorites]


Interesting. SeattleSonics.com has been hijacked. Someone should tell their IT guy.
posted by maxwelton at 6:37 PM on June 4, 2012


They're a professional basketball team, making them a business like any other. They'll have the same trademark powers that any other business would.

Remember, domain names are handled by an arbitrator, and they almost always rule for someone with a trademark on a name.


Trademarks do not cover all fields of business. This suggests that they would be well advised to register thecharlottebobcats.com as a trademark for fine art.
posted by jaduncan at 6:47 PM on June 4, 2012


Gosh, some interesting and amusing resulting from caring about professional sports. I am not being sarcastic: that blew my mind a bit.
posted by Scram at 6:48 PM on June 4, 2012


Obstreperousness. The real measure of a top notch trademark lawyer.
posted by surplus at 7:31 PM on June 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Weird. I was just watching this before reading this post.
posted by fungible at 7:55 PM on June 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


This post just made me care about basketball itself, a team I'd never heard of, and some really cool people that I want as friends. I think the Bobcats would be crazy to go after these guys for the domain. The Magic Press Fairy has just landed on their heads, turned around, and shat out a nice, big fat golden egg into their lap. Use. It.
posted by Vavuzi at 8:51 PM on June 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


Here's what astounds me: It is very standard practice when announcing possible titles and names and what-have-you for high-profile projects to register the domain names before anything else. Why Bob Johnson didn't do this, particularly with the name he was obviously going to use, is beyond me.

Anyway, this cracks me up, but I should mention for the mefites who don't follow sports ephemera that it's been a tough week for the Bobcats, even by their standards. Everyone expected them to win first pick in the draft lottery, but it went to the Hornets instead (in a cruel insult of fate.) Some angry people have raised suspicions of shenanigans, though David Stern screwing over Michael Jordan in the interest of playing up a team the NBA had already sold seems unlikely to me.

Still, Charlotte now gets second pick in a draft year that includes only one clear superstar (Anthony Davis) and will likely trade that for whatever semi-reliable scraps they can get from the Clippers or Nuggets or Grizzlies or whatever other playoff-hopeful needs some young blood to continue its attempts.

NBA teams can turn it around. Just look at the Thunder four years ago. But this was an awful blow to Charlotte.
posted by Navelgazer at 10:05 PM on June 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'd replace it all with a looped recording of Anthony Davis claiming his family was disappointed he wouldn't be going to the Bobcats.
posted by acidic at 10:44 PM on June 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


Amazing, amazing story. You still got it internet!
posted by Potomac Avenue at 12:36 PM on June 5, 2012


VIA?
posted by mrgrimm at 1:28 PM on June 5, 2012


doh ... sorry, missed the (obvious) first link. delete if you want ...
posted by mrgrimm at 1:30 PM on June 5, 2012


Scram: "Gosh, some interesting and amusing resulting from caring about professional sports. I am not being sarcastic: that blew my mind a bit."

It might not have been sarcastic, it was still sort of dickish.
posted by Chrysostom at 11:27 AM on June 11, 2012


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