A UDRP was filed for Champagne.CO by ComitÃ© Interprofessionnel du vin de Champagne of Ã‰pernay, France, and the complaint was denied by the sole panelist. I believe this marks the first successful defense of a .CO domain name in a UDRP. Not only is champagne the popular sparkling wine, but it’s also a region in France where the grapes for said wine are grown.
One reason the respondent one appears to be because the name is geographical in nature. The panelist referred to the WIPO Final Report on the First Domain Name Process and the Second Domain Name Process to determine that “geographical indications, as such, remain outside the scope of the Policy.” Personally, I feel even more comfortable now with my Bahamas.CO website.
The panelist further discusses champagne, the drink, vs. Champagne the region:
In this case, the Panel is not satisfied that the Complainant has shown that its rights in the expression “Champagne” constitute an unregistered trademark right of the kind that would satisfy paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy. First, the Panel notes that it is generally accepted that, to be a trademark, a sign must be capable of distinguishing the goods or services of an individual undertaking from those of other undertakings. It seems to this Panel that a geographical indication per se does not distinguish the wine of one champagne producer from the wine of another, and so does not fulfill the fundamental function of a trademark of distinguishing the goods or services of one undertaking from those of other undertakings. A geographical indication is essentially designed to achieve a somewhat different purpose, namely to protect the producers of a particular region from loss caused by traders wrongfully applying that identifier to goods which have not been produced in the particular region, thereby appropriating to themselves the goodwill arising out of the reputation for quality which the producers of the protected products have built up. It seems to this Panel that geographical indications speak fundamentally of the quality and reputation of the goods produced according to certain standards in a specific geographic area, but not of any particular or individual trade source as such.”
Although it was unnecessary at the end, the panelist did discuss whether the respondent had registered the domain name in bad faith and/or had used it in bad faith:
“However the Complainant has not alleged that the Respondent’s intention was to sell, rent, or otherwise transfer the Domain Name to the Complainant or to a competitor of the Complainant – just that the Respondent’s primary intention was to rent, sell, or otherwise transfer the Domain Name to a third party. And even if the Complainant had said that the Respondent’s intention was to sell, rent, or otherwise transfer the Domain Name to the Complainant at a profit, the Panel has found that the Complainant is not in fact “the owner of the trademark or service mark”, as those words are used in paragraph 4(b)(i). The Complainant’s allegations therefore do not bring it within paragraph 4(b)(i) of the Policy, and the Complainant has not specified any other ground on which the Complainant is said to have been guilty of bad faith registration and use of the Domain Name. Trading in domain names is not per se contrary to the Policy (see, for example, Media General Communications Inc., cited by the Respondent).”
This is a very in-depth decision, and I recommend that you check it out when you have a chance since I have not adequately analyzed the decision in this post.