Local Sports Stars Battle Cyber Squatting

FRESNO, Calif. Just a few weeks ago Bernard Berrian scored a game winning touchdown for the Minnesota Vikings. The former Fresno State standout is now catching passes from Brett Favre; he's played in a Super Bowl, and has a $42-million dollar contract.

"The life is fun. I mean I can't deny I can't sit here and say I don't like the life. I love playing football I mean it does create a lot of opportunities for me, a lot of opportunities for my family," said Berrian.

Action News met up with Berrian several weeks ago in Clovis, when the Vikings had a bye week. The wide receiver has reached a level of success, where even his name has value. And he has also seen the downside of being so high profile.

Earlier this year, he filed a federal lawsuit against Fresno realtor Ryan Perkins for trying to profit off Berrian's name.

According to court records Perkins bought up two internet domain names with Berrian's name then tried to re-sell them for much more. It's a practice commonly referred to as "cyber squatting."

Perkins bought BernardBerrian.com in 2004, just after Berrian finished his career at Fresno State and was drafted into the NFL.

When Action News tracked down Perkins to ask him why he cyber squats, he avoided us several times. Action News finally caught up with him to ask one question.

"Why are you trying to profit off other peoples good names?"

Last year Perkins marketed the domain name for sale on Craigslist, advertising the big contract Berrian signed and asking for one thousand dollars.

When Berrian wanted the website, his attorneys say Perkins wanted even more. "He was demanding I believe two thousand dollars plus tickets to the Minnesota Vikings - Green Bay Packers game and an autographed football that stated thank you for your help in obtaining my domain name signed Bernard Berrian."

Even when his legal team told him it would be more cost efficient to just meet Perkins requests, Berrian battled back.

"I said 'I don't care how much it cost. I am going to fight it. I am not letting him go get away with anything like that.'"

One specific request pushed Berrian to his limit. "I think the thing that really threw me for a loop was the personalized message and what said in the personalized message. And that's what really pushed me to the edge and I was like there's no way. I am not writing that on the ball. There's no way."

Earlier this month, a judge issued a permanent injunction based on the cyber piracy complaint, ordering Perkins to give up the domain names without any payment of any kind.

In an email Perkins sent to Action News he said he doesn't wish to discuss the matter. He also refused to comment about other websites he's been trying to sell.

He owned pro golfer Nick Watney's domain name and until a few days ago wanted $10,000 dollars to sell it. Before Watney started playing the best golf of his career, Perkins advertised it for $2 thousand dollars.

After we confronted Perkins, Watney's domain name was transferred to a Chinese national. Ironically, Berrian's complaint reveals Perkins threatened to also transfer his domain name to a business associate in China.

Lately, Berrian is big on tweeting with his growing fan base on the internet. And now that BernardBerrian.com is his, he's working to get his interactive fan website up and running.

From the beginning, the NFL star says the lawsuit has always been about principle. "You believe in something you definitely got to stand for it and put you foot down I don't care what really what the situation is or how big or how small it is."

Bernard Berrian has never backed down from a challenge, on or off the field, even when his opponent's not playing fair.

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