A UDRP has been filed against Gstaad.com at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). The case is WIPO Case D2016-2601.
Gstaad is an area of Switzerland known for its world class skiing. You can read more about Gstaad in this Ski.com write-up. The Gstaad.com domain name has a creation date of October 31, 1995, making over 20 years old. The domain name appears to be registered to a registrant in Monte Carlo, and the domain name currently forwards to a website found at 3780gstaad.com.
According to NameBio, Gstaad.com sold for $31,250 at auction via SnapNames back in 2006. For an unknown reason, it is not listed in the DNJournal sales report for 2006, but had it been, it would have been in the top 25 public sales for the year.
The complainant in this UDRP is listed as Gstaad Saanenland Tourismus, which I believe is the tourism organization in the area. It appears that this organization operates a website on Gstaad.ch (.CH is the Swiss ccTLD). I can see why the organization would want to have this valuable domain name, but I am unclear about why it thinks a UDRP filing was the way to go about it.
As a bit of an aside, I first learned about Gstaad at a New York City bar of the same name. I went to a couple of birthday parties at this trendy location, which had a projector showing ski videos on a wall across from the bar. It looks like this bar has now closed.
I have not had the pleasure of skiing Gstaad yet. I am a bit confused about whether the Gstaad name is similar to a ski area like Aspen where the major resort is named after the location or if Gstaad is a coined brand name. This could play a role in the decision.
Assuming Gstaad is a geographic area, I would imagine the domain name would be considered generic in nature and anyone could use the domain name. There have been quite a few UDRPs filed against geographic domain names that were retained by the domain owners. Interestingly, a UDRP was filed against StMoritz.com in 2004 (St. Moritz is also a Swiss ski area), and Ari Goldberger’s law firm successfully defended that domain name and achieved a reverse domain name hijacking finding.
I will be following this UDRP proceeding, and I will provide an update when the decision is rendered.
6.1.17 Update: According to the WIPO website, this UDRP complaint has been denied. The domain name owner was represented by attorney John Berryhill. Andrew Allemann wrote about the decision this morning.
Gstaad is a village, part of the Saanen municipality, in the Canton of Berne.
That’s definitely a geo domain, Gstaad is not a coined brand name.
Gstaad became a famous ski resort only at the beginning of 1900, before it was just Alps cattle farming and agriculture there 🙂
Interestingly, it looks the local tourism office was the owner until circa 2004 (until then it was redirecting to Gstaad.ch).
IMHO, if the domain has been fairly used for its generic geo meaning, without trying to sell it to Gstaad Tourism Office and/or other weird things/practices we are not aware of, there is no way they can get it.
The StMortiz.com case you link to in your post is a very unusual case in that while the majority of the panel found RDNH, one of the panelists would have ordered the domain transferred to the Complainant. That’s a pretty clear sign that the UDRP lacks clear guidelines when the panelists can’t agree among themselves as to which party is the abuser and which is the victim.
The StMortiz.com case is over 12 years old, and we’ll have to wait a while longer before the ICANN Working Group on these matters starts reviewing the UDRP.
The StMoritz.com case was also a refiled case.