CHICAGO -- A 29-year-old MBA student is countersuing the Chicago Olympic committee for rights to Chicago2016.com, asking them to leave him alone.
Northwestern University student Stephen Frayne Jr. bought the Chicago2016.com site from a Japanese company in 2004, two years before Chicago launched its bid to host the 2016 Summer Olympic Games.
The site went live in September with what he considers is a lively discussion of the pros and cons of Chicago's Olympic bid.
"I'm addressing issues that the bid committee is not willing to address," Frayne said. I'm interested in bringing an open and honest discussion to the citizens of Chicago.
Frayne's site contains bold disclaimers that it is not the official bid Web site -- Chicago2016.org -- but the city's bid committee wants Frayne's site, arguing that they have a trademark on "Chicago 2016."
"We think it's misleading, and we think it's an opportunity for someone to put things up that are not endorsed by us," Chicago 2016 spokesman Patrick Sandusky said.
Indeed, noting that Frayne registered dozens of domain names for other potential Olympic bid cities, Chicago 2016 stops just short of calling Frayne a profiteer.
"I don't think it's about lively discourse as much as just having the opportunity to profit in some way, not necessarily financially, but possibly from a publicity standpoint," Sandusky said.
Frayne said he's not interested in making money off the site, and said he has turned down repeated offers the bid committee has made to purchase the name. Chicago 2016 insists no offers for money were ever made for the site. They said they would just like it turned over to them.
"If Steve were obviously looking to profit from what he has done, then he would have accepted these offers to try and buy these names earlier on," Frayne's attorney, Robert Grabemann, said.
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 sued Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Chicago to stop the proceedings.