Bloomberg Business published an article this morning about the legal battle that is playing out over the Playboy.London domain name. In a single panel UDRP decision rendered in January, a WIPO panelist ruled that the Playboy.London domain name be transferred to Playboy Enterprises International. The owner of the domain name is fighting to keep it.
According to the Bloomberg Business article, the owner of Playboy.London has filed a lawsuit in order to retain the domain name. From the article:
“Playboy’s lawyers contacted Ross last year to say he didn’t have the right to use the trademark and in January won a ruling from the World Intellectual Property Organization in Geneva, which handles disputes over Web domains, saying it should be transferred to them.
Ross hired a lawyer and filed a London lawsuit on Feb. 12 to stop that happening.”
I think this is a case to follow because there are thousands of descriptive keywords used by brands, and many of those become available to purchase when new domain extensions go on the market. It doesn’t seem right to me that a brand would automatically get to own that keyword.
For people who buy new gTLD domain names, one aspect of the UDRP ruling I found troubling is found in section 6B: “The Response contains no evidence of use of the Domain Name, let alone non-commercial use.” From my own experience, it can take a lot of time to create and implement a development plan for a business, and I don’t think it’s fair that non-use can be penalized when the name hasn’t even been registered all that long.
I think this will be an interesting case to follow. You can read additional background about the domain name and case on the Bloomberg Business website.
The sad thing in this case is the obvious reversal of the terms; London playboy dot com is owned by Playboy since 2002.
What about PlayboyLondon.com?
Playboy will win this on a common law/use basis at the very least. They have made “Playboy” a non generic name-really no different than Realtor.
Yes, there are thousands of descriptive keywords used by brands, which makes this an interesting case to follow. Let justice prevail. The problem is, how much justice can you afford?