Tuesday , August 16 2022

Judge reiterates demand that Canvas.com stop using its domain…tomorrow!

Canvas will have to switch domain names by tomorrow.

Picture of a male judge with a white wig swinging a baseball bat

Not the actual judge.

Perhaps you can forgive United States District Judge Dale A. Kimball for not understanding what goes into changing a web platform’s domain name. But the engineers at Canvas’ headquarters probably won’t.

Today, Kimball denied (pdf) a request by Canvas to stay an injunction he approved against the company. The denial means that Canvas has to rebrand its company and change domain names by 15 days after he made the injunction — tomorrow.

Kimball thinks it’s no big deal. If it ends up winning the case, it will just be a “temporary rebrand.”

He notes that Canvas already rebranded last year from Jumpstart and changed its domain from Jumpstart.me to Canvas.com. Sure, it took six months, but how hard can it be just to flip the switch back?

In addition, Canvas Tech has rebranded before – when it changed from Jumpstart to Canvas. Although that initial rebrand took six months, it is unlikely to take Canvas Tech that
long again. Canvas Tech’s mission and services this time will, presumedly, stay the same. All that must change is the branding itself. Since Canvas Tech still owns and retains the website and infrastructure for Jumpstart, the court is unconvinced that Canvas Tech will need much time at all to temporarily rebrand.

Second, the court believes that Canvas Tech’s claimed harm to its customers is exaggerated. Presently, Canvas Tech’s www.jumpstart.me domain is used by Canvas Tech to
automatically redirect users to www.canvas.com. To comply with the preliminary injunction, Canvas Tech could use the www.jumpstart.me domain again, without redirecting the users.
Canvas Tech can also announce the new rebrand through a post on its platform.

Let’s look at that last sentence again: Canvas Tech can also announce the new rebrand through a post on its platform.

Oh, you mean the platform hosted at Canvas.com?

Hopefully, the judge won’t split hairs over using Canvas.com. At a minimum, the business needs to be able to redirect it to another domain and forward emails destined for the @canvas.com email addresses. Otherwise, its business will be irreparably harmed (if you believe that changing domains tomorrow won’t irreparably harm the company.)

I’m not a judge or a lawyer. Perhaps Instructure, the company that filed the dispute, has a good case. It seemed marginal to me, but maybe the evidence will show otherwise. Still, it baffles me that a judge would unilaterally force a company to stop using its domain within 15 days in these circumstances. When we look at UDPR, we complain that the panelists can only choose to approve or deny a transfer. There’s nothing in between, like requiring a domain owner to put a note on a page that says the companies are not affiliated as a stopgap during a dispute like this.

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About Andrew Allemann

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