A UDRP was filed at the World Intellectual Property Organization for 74 domain names. When I saw the filing, I thought it was a bit strange since the domain names didn’t seem to have much in common. This was peculiar since it would mean the complainant would need to prove the domain owner was cybersquatting on a variety of terms and/or marks.
The decision was published on the WIPO website this morning, and it appears that the complainant filed the UDRP because of an alleged theft of the domain names. According to the decision, the complainant contended “that the Respondent registered the disputed domain names in bad faith as the Respondent hacked into the Complainants’ GoDaddy accounts and changed the registrant information for the disputed domain names to the Respondent’s personal information without the knowledge or consent of the Complainants.”
Unfortunately for the complainant in this UDRP case, the sole panelist (Linda Chang) ruled in favor of the domain registrant, who did not file a response to the UDRP. In the discussion, the panelist was “unable to find any evidence that the key parts of the disputed domain names have been used/advertised as trademarks, i.e., to identify the Complainant as the source of goods or services under a particular mark. The Complainant only submits a conclusory allegation of common law rights without proving it has acquired trademark rights in these names to support its contention.”
In the final section of the decision, the panelist stated that “the allegations of theft are outside the limited scope of the Policy.” The panelist mentioned that the complainant could litigate this in court to try and recover the alleged stolen domain names, but essentially, the UDRP is not the proper venue for a case like this.
I have seen UDRP cases go both ways when it comes to allegedly stolen domain names. Some examples include 608.com, XAG.com, EDP.com, and LGI.com. It seems that the difference between these cases and the UDRP that was published today is that the domain owners were able to prove usage and their rights to the terms/domain names.
I find this kind of odd that they tried going to UDRP for this. I’m with Linda Chang on this as the panelist can not just go by the word of the complaint. They need to take this through the legal system. Hopefully the theft is from someone in their own country. International cases may be a bit difficult to handle.