Dennis Toeppen

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Dennis Eric Toeppen
Born 1964 (age 50–51)
Mount Prospect, Illinois
Residence Champaign, Illinois
Nationality United States
Education BS, MS, MBA
Alma mater University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Northwestern University
University of Chicago
Occupation Bus company owner
Years active 1983–present
Employer Self-employed
Organization Suburban Express
Home town Mount Prospect, Illinois
Website
toeppen.com

Dennis Toeppen is an entrepreneur from central Illinois and the owner of bus company Suburban Express.[1] He is also known for being a party to two cases of first impression relating to Domain Name registration.

Early life and education[edit]

Dennis Eric Toeppen grew up in Mount Prospect, Illinois. He graduated from Prospect High School in 1982 and enrolled at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, majoring in electrical engineering. He later changed his major to business, and graduated in 1987.[2] Thereafter, he obtained a bachelor's degree in economics from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, a master's degree in transportation from Northwestern University and an MBA from the University of Chicago.[3]

Bus Transportation[edit]

In 1983, Toeppen started Suburban Express, a bus company which provides transportation from Urbana-Champaign and several other towns containing universities to Chicago. After a price war with Greyhound which involved two Illinois Commerce Commission investigations initiated by Greyhound, Suburban Express' ticket sales equaled that of Greyhound by 1985.[2]

In 2013, Suburban Express received a large amount of negative media coverage after filing 125 lawsuits against passengers and threatening others including a Reddit moderator.[4][5][6] Afterwards, the company withdrew its lawsuits, then reinstated many.[7]

Toeppen also started Allerton Charter Coach, a charter bus company with three buses and four vans as of 2014.[8]

Cybersquatting activities[edit]

In 1995, Toeppen registered about 200 internet domain names including some which were similar to well known companies and popular trademarks.[9] Some of them included panavision.com (Panavision), deltaairlines.com (Delta Airlines), neiman-marcus.com (Neiman Marcus), eddiebauer.com (Eddie Bauer) and yankeestadium.com (New York Yankees).[9] Some of these companies, like Delta Airlines,[10] paid Toeppen to acquire the domain names from him.[11]

Panavision, a camera manufacturing company, sued Toeppen for trademark infringement instead of paying him $13,000 for the domain. The court ruled in favor of Panavision, forcing Toeppen to relinquish the domain name.[9][12][13][14] In a similar case, Intermatic Inc., a timer manufacturing company, sued Toeppen instead of paying him $5,000 for the domain name intermatic.com.[15] The case was ruled in favour of Intermatic.[9][16] In 1999, US congress made it illegal to knowingly register websites containing trademarks with the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act.[11]

Arrest[edit]

In July 2014, Toeppen was arrested and released on bail on two counts of "harassment through electronic communications," a misdemeanor in Illinois, going back to the spring of 2013.[17] The charges arose after a former customer complained that lewd comments were posted on Reddit about himself and another person.[18]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Dodson, Don (1990-04-18). "News-Gazette (Champaign)" (PDF). 
  2. ^ a b Rozek, Dan (1985-10-20). "Fare wars - Bus service run by student butts heads with Greyhound". Daily Herald (Arlington Heights). 
  3. ^ "Dennis Toeppen's website". Retrieved June 20, 2013. 
  4. ^ Gallagher, Sean (2013-04-26). "Express to Internet Hate: Bus company threatens redditor with lawsuit". Ars Technica. 
  5. ^ Gallagher, Sean (2013-06-19). "Bus company that threatened redditor with lawsuit tries to reopen suit". Ars Technica. 
  6. ^ Franz, Justin (2013-04-29). "Bus Company Threatens to Sue Redditor Over Bad Press". The Daily Dot. 
  7. ^ Gallagher, Sean (2013-05-02). "Nonstop to schadenfreude: Suburban Express’ u-turn on reddit lawsuit". Ars Technica. 
  8. ^ "Allerton website". Retrieved January 28, 2014. 
  9. ^ a b c d Bidgoli, Hossein. The Internet Encyclopedia: P - Z. p. 455. 
  10. ^ Wayner, Peter (September 21, 1998). "Compressed Data; What's in a Web Name? Sometimes, Mistaken Identity". New York Times. Retrieved 2013-06-28. 
  11. ^ a b Newenham, Pamela (2013-05-30). "Make sure you have control of your domain – or prepare to pay the price". The Irish Times. Retrieved 2013-06-28. 
  12. ^ Spinello, Richard. Cyberethics: Morality and Law in Cyberspace. 
  13. ^ Graham, Lawrence (1999). Legal Battles That Shaped the Computer Industry. Praeger. pp. 135–138. ISBN 1567201784. 
  14. ^ Panavision Int'l, L.P. v. Toeppen, 945 F. Supp. 1296 (C.D. Cal. 1996), aff'd, 141 F.3d 1316 (9th Cir. 1998).
  15. ^ Peter, Lewis (1996-09-12). "The Internet's Gatekeeper May Cash In on Its Role". The New York Times. Retrieved 20 June 2013. 
  16. ^ Intermatic Inc. v. Toeppen, 947 F. Supp. 1227 (N.D. Ill. 1996).
  17. ^ Ditman, Tim (July 16, 2014). "Bus company owner charged with online harassment". The News-Gazette (Champaign-Urbana). Retrieved July 16, 2014. 
  18. ^ "Bus firm owner charged with harassing customers - Chicago Tribune". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 7 August 2014.