Discussing “Nonuse” of a Domain Name

I was reading the UDRP decision that was filed for the domain name Michelman.com by Michelman, Inc.   The owner of the domain name registered it in 1997, and in the response, his attorney stated the domain name was registered “for a website containing commentary concerning the issue of abortion rights.” The complainant argued that the “Respondent has never made any use of the disputed domain name, legitimate or otherwise.”

The WIPO panel eventually ruled in favor of the complainant, and the panel stated, “Ten years’ nonuse without a demonstrable right or legitimate interest clearly amounts to use in bad faith consistent with the reasoning of Telstra.”

With that said, I have a question about the reference to “nonuse.” What exactly does the term “nonuse” constitute? Does nonuse always mean that a domain name isn’t or wasn’t developed?   I think this term is a bit of a grey area that I don’t fully understand.

I know of several domain names that may technically look like they aren’t being used, but behind the scenes, the domain name is the backbone for comprehensive email address systems.   If a domain owner wishes to use his domain name simply for the vanity email addresses he would have access to, does this decision mean that he must build out an expensive website just to eliminate the appearance of nonuse?

I believe the definition of “nonuse” should be more clearly defined, because at the present time, I am not sure I understand what it means. To me, a domain name may be “used” even if it doesn’t appear to be so.

Elliot Silver
Elliot Silver
About The Author: Elliot Silver is an Internet entrepreneur and publisher of DomainInvesting.com. Elliot is also the founder and President of Top Notch Domains, LLC, a company that has closed eight figures in deals. Please read the DomainInvesting.com Terms of Use page for additional information about the publisher, website comment policy, disclosures, and conflicts of interest. Reach out to Elliot: Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn


  1. 100% Agree. The domain legal system as with all legal systems should be based on as much objectivity as possible, and to have that you need clearly defined parameters.

  2. Hi,

    I do not ‘get it’….

    If I own something…anything…I should be able to ‘use’ or ‘nonuse’ it anyway I want.

    “nonuse” is actually a use…IMHO

    Its like if you choose NOT to make a decision about something…you have still made a decision.

    How can ‘nonuse’ be ‘bad faith’?

    What degree of nonuse?

    If this guy put up a one page website for 10 minutes…1 day a year on the anniversary of Roe vs Wade…would this still be considered ‘nonuse’ of this domain?

    I do not like this decision.


  3. Unfortunately the UDRP does not follow detailed, clearly written guidelines; does not recognize precedent; and in general needs a lot of reform in order to represent this growing industry.

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