Earlier this year, executives at Dell Inc. tried to shut down DellComputersSuck.com, a Web site promoting an obscure brand of computers. Dell’s lawyers dispatched a stern letter, and within a few days, the site’s owner revamped it into an online discussion group about computers. The old version disappeared from view.

The PC giant still wanted to seize the address, a move permitted under rules governing the use of domain names. But Dell had to prove to an arbitration panel it had been used in “bad faith.” So Dell’s legal team turned to the Wayback Machine, a massive archive of Web pages dating back nine years. There, Dell found copies of the deleted site and was able to prove that its owner, Innervision Web Solutions, had used it to redirect consumers to another Web address selling PCs with names such as ZMachinez and Jetbook. In May, an arbitration panel ordered the domain name be transferred to Dell.

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