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Lakeland, Fla., landscaper Zach Ridner doesn’t possess a lot of the things that Fort Lauderdale billionaire H. Wayne Huizenga enjoys. Ridner doesn’t rule over a corporate empire, live in expensive homes, ride in fancy cars, fly in a posh jet, own two professional sports teams or collect stock options. Nor does Ridner have a homeless shelter and a business school named after him. But Ridner does control one thing that Huizenga doesn’t: waynehuizenga.com. Ridner plunked down $70 on Dec. 11 to own the Internet domain name waynehuizenga.com. For good measure, he spent $140 more to buy waynehuizenga.org and waynehuizenga.net. “I look through different magazines that list the wealthiest people in the world, and his name always pops up,” says Ridner, who is 20 years old. “He’s a pretty prominent businessman. So I figured if I can get his name … maybe something might happen.” Ridner hopes to strike it rich by selling the domain name to Huizenga. Just how much is waynehuizenga.com worth? “To tell you the truth, I really don’t know,” Ridner says. “I’d love to negotiate or work something out.” Maybe so, but the chairman of car-retailing giant AutoNation Inc. isn’t prepared to wheel and deal. “He sounds like an enterprising young man,” laughs Huizenga spokesman Ron Castell. But, he warns, “Don’t cash the check ’cause there’s not one coming. Wayne has no plans to start his own Web site to show pictures of his summer vacation.” Huizenga isn’t alone in the blue-suits crowd of well-known South Floridians who have had their names registered as domains by others in a dot-com-crazed world. The list of names snapped up with www as a prefix include: Pax TV executive Lowell “Bud” Paxson; Miami Heat president and coach Pat Riley; Miami defense attorney Roy Black; part-time Palm Beach resident and Sunbeam Corp.’s principal shareholder Ronald Perelman; and former Sunbeam chairman Al Dunlap. Others who have had their names registered by the cyber savvy include: Miami developer Armando Codina; Carl and Damon DeSantis of Boca Raton, Fla., vitamin maker Rexall Sundown Inc.; Nick Caporella of Plantation, Fla.-based National Beverage Corp.; and Palm Beach, Fla., billionaire John Kluge of Metromedia Co. Most of the sites are inactive, though waynehuizenga.com serves as an advertisement for Integrity Online, a Tennessee company that hosts the site. The cost to register a domain name varies by firm, but large registration services such as Network Solutions Inc. and Register.com charge $35 annually. Holders can lose the rights to the domain name if they fail to pay the renewal fee. Interestingly, many of the domains bearing the names of these well-known South Floridians were registered after President Clinton signed on Nov. 29 a law banning “cybersquatting” — the practice of registering trademarks or famous names as Internet addresses with the expectation of reselling them to their namesakes for a profit. Cybersquatters can be sued for up to $100,000 in damages under the law, and may have to pay their adversaries’ legal fees as well. And they may have to forfeit or turn over the domain name to the person who is suing them. Ridner registered waynehuizenga.com less than two weeks after Clinton signed the bill. Budpaxson.com was taken on June 11 by an Iowa pastor. And Patriley.com was registered on Dec. 30 by a Miami cafe owner. But the owners of the domain names might be hard-pressed to hang on to them if their namesakes seek control. “If you do not have a legitimate business and you do it solely to prevent the person from legitimately using it, then you’re cybersquatting,” says Roy Oppenheim of the Weston law firm Oppenheim Pilelsky. “Registering people’s names for extortion is illegal.” Last year, Oppenheim sold the domain name oppenheim.com to a century-old German bank, Sal Oppenheim Jr. & Cie, for six figures. But he was in a position to sell the name because it had served as the Web address for his law firm for about five years. The cost of fighting over a domain name may cause some to reconsider whether it’s worth it, according to Samuel I. Burstyn, a Miami lawyer who represents clients embroiled in commercial domain-name disputes. “I will point out if Mr. Huizenga asked me to litigate his entitlement to that name, he would end up paying me more for legal fees than that other fellow might be willing to take for the domain name,” Burstyn says. Huizenga was out of town, so Castell doesn’t know whether he would go to court to seize control of waynehuizenga.com. But Ridner made it clear how he feels about a legal battle over the name. “I wouldn’t let it get to the point where it would get to litigation,” Ridner says, adding he was unaware of the cybersquatting law. Fairhope, Ala., computer programmer R.J. Rezner initially said he wasn’t worried about any legal battles over his ownership of aldunlap.com and al-dunlap.com, the name of the deposed Sunbeam executive, because the names were acquired before the cybersquatting law took effect. However, he later called back to express his concerns. Rezner originally said he’d probably accept $25,000 from Dunlap for the names. But in later conversations he had second thoughts. “I don’t intend to be in violation of the law,” he says, suggesting he would be willing to hand over the names if Dunlap wanted them. Still, Rezner’s not a fan of Dunlap. Rezner says he worked at Scott Paper when he temporarily lost his job following a downsizing spearheaded by Dunlap. “He’s a capitalist without any morals or any allegiance to the community,” Rezner says. But the programmer hasn’t used the domains to bash Dunlap. Instead, the sites let people know the domains are for sale. Dunlap’s New York lawyer, Donald Zakarin, wasn’t aware that his client’s name is now a Web address. “It’s not something we’ve been monitoring, but maybe we should have,” Zakarin says. He had no additional comments. Even Dunlap’s nickname, “Chainsaw Al” has been registered as a dot-com. The holder, in Albany, N.Y., did not respond to inquiries. Miami developer Armando Codina also was unaware his name had been registered as a dot-com. The actual registrant was listed in records as R. Selavy in Miami. Selavy couldn’t be reached for comment. Codina indicated he had no interest in acquiring the dot-com that bears his name. “If I had a use for it, I wouldn’t mind spending money on legal fees [to get it], rather than having somebody holding me up,” he said. “I don’t react well to being held up.” Miami Heat coach Pat Riley had his name snared by Sylvain Bignon, owner of the Greenstreet Caf� in Miami. Bignon was vacationing in France and unavailable for comment. Riley also was out of town. A Heat spokesman says Riley has no connection to the domain name. Other holders of well-known South Floridians’ names expressed no desire to hold the domain names for ransom. “I thought, if anything, it would be enjoyable to give to these people something they don’t have,” said Jeff Mullen, pastor of the Point of Grace Church in West Des Moines, Iowa, who registered budpaxson.com. in honor of the head of Paxson Communications Corp. He also registered the names of writers Wess Roberts, Warren Bennis and Bob Buford. “I respect [Paxson] and his company.” So what does Paxson think of Mullen’s charitable act? A Paxson spokeswoman said he had no comment. Real estate agent Rick Mendonca of Lodi, Calif., registered royblack.com with hopes it would lead to an introduction to the Miami lawyer. He acquired the name in August 1998, and it’s one of about 300 names he owns. “I wanted to meet him,” Mendonca says. “It wasn’t to hold him hostage. I figured I would be in court and I would need some representation.” Just what kind of assistance he thought Black would offer, Mendonca didn’t say. Black, who achieved national prominence for his successful defense of William Kennedy Smith against a Palm Beach rape allegation, didn’t respond to inquiries. While his ownership of royblack.com hasn’t produced any encounters, Mendonca says he expects to meet soon with another well-known trial attorney, Gerry Spence. Mendonca deliberately registered Spence’s name as jerryspence.com, figuring most people would incorrectly spell the lawyer’s name. Spence owns gerryspence.com, a site that only shows his name. “Far more people will find him under that than “g,” Mendonca says. “It’s just another avenue for people to find him” in explaining Spence’s interest in owning the incorrect version of his name. Spence couldn’t be reached for comment. Mendonca also owns the name of David Boies, the lawyer who represented the U.S. Justice Department in its case against Microsoft Corp. Mendonca bristles when talking about laws that he believes usurp his rights to own such domain names. “What’s the medium about?” he asks. “It’s about being first. … At the time [I registered these names], it was totally legal.” Not everyone was beaten to the punch in registering domain names. For instance, Carnival Corp. secured the commercial domain for chairman Micky Arison on Nov. 1. Mickyarison.com connects Web surfers to Carnival’s site. “From time to time, we register domain names associated with the company,” said company spokeswoman Jennifer de la Cruz. “Micky Arison’s name was simply one of them. The reason for doing so? Simple, she says: “If we don’t register the domain names associated with the company, somebody else will.”

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