CHICAGO -- A 29-year-old MBA student is countersuing the Chicago Olympic committee for rights to Chicago2016.com.
Northwestern University student Stephen Frayne Jr. bought the Chicago2016.com site from a Japanese company in 2004. Chicago kicked off its bid to host the 2016 Olympics two years later. The city's Olympic committee has trademarked "Chicago 2016," and uses Chicago2016.org as its official web site.
The Chicago and U.S. Olympic committees appealed to an international arbitration organization for ownership of Chicago2016.com, and a decision is expected Monday. Frayne filed suit against both groups Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Chicago to stop the proceedings.
"We certainly see Chicago2016.com as the logical default domain for our site, and we believe having someone else control it is misleading for people seeking information about Chicago's bid," Chicago 2016 spokesman Patrick Sandusky said.
Frayne owns 40 other sites whose names combine a city name and year, including Tokyo2016.com. He launched Chicago2016.com late last month as place for discussion about Chicago's Olympic chances. The site states that it is not hosted by the Olympic committee and directs users to Chicago2016.org.
"This case represents an important battle for First Amendment rights and the use of the Internet as a forum to foster debate over a topic that deserves to be discussed," Frayne's lawsuit states.
Freedom of speech is not at issue, but "the domain name that is rightfully ours," Sandusky said.
Chicago is competing against three other cities to host the 2016 Olympics.