Olympic Committee Goes After Tokyo 2021 Domain Names

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The 2020 Summer Olympics were scheduled to be held in Tokyo, Japan later on this Summer. Because of the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak, the Olympic games were postponed to 2021. According to UDRPSearch.com, three UDRPs were filed against domain names with Tokyo2021 in them. The three UDRPs were filed at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). UDRP proceedings were filed against:

  • Tokyo2021.com (case #D2020-0810)
  • Tokyo2021.org (case #D2020-0808)
  • Tokyo2021.cn (case #DCN2020-0007)

The complainant in the UDRPs were filed by the International Olympic Committee Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games. The IOC is the organization that is responsible for overseeing the 2021 Olympic games in Tokyo.

These three UDRP proceedings are going to be very interesting to watch. Tokyo2021.com and Tokyo2021.org were created in February of this year, and Tokyo2021.cn was created in March. It appears that all three domain names were registered by different entities. Given the registration dates, it seems to me like the 3 domain names were created because of the potential (at the time) for the Summer Olympics to be postponed. Indeed, the Olympic games were postponed, so now Tokyo 2021 has more meaning.

However – and this is a big one – “Tokyo 2021” is pretty generic sounding. These domain names do not have Olympic trademarks in them – like “Olympics” or “Olympic.” In fact, Tokyo2020.com is registered by a third party, while Tokyo2020.org is registered to and being used by the Olympic committee that filed the UDRPs.

To win each UDRP, the complainant will need to prove that each of these domain names are “identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark.” This is usually the easiest aspect of a UDRP for a complainant to prove. In this case, it seems to me like it would be difficult for the Olympic committee to prove this.

In addition to this, the complainant will also need to prove the domain names were registered and are being used in bad faith. Tokyo2021.com does not resolve to an active website. Tokyo2021.org has a blurb about the Summer Olympics being postponed to 2021. Tokyo2021.cn has a “for sale” message on the landing page. I think each UDRP panel may make different observations based on usage. That said, the complainant will need to prove all three elements for each domain name.

Olympic related entities have a stellar record when filing UDRPs. I understand these groups also use other legal means to enforce their trademarks beyond the UDRP. Put simply, it is pretty difficult for a third party to use the “Olympics” or “Olympic” in their domain names if the website is trying to trade off of the goodwill of the Olympic games. In these particular UDRP filings, it will be interesting to see if the IOC is able to prove all three elements of the UDRP since they are fairly generic.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Pretty generic sounding? That’s the understatement of the week. Short of a udrp fix there is no way they win these complaints

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