A couple of months ago, I wrote an article about the pending UDRP for PPD.com. Pharmaceutical Product Development, Inc. and Pharmaco Investments, Inc. filed the UDRP for PPD.com in mid-April, and the decision was just posted online.
For some reason, the respondent did not respond*Update* The respondent responded late to the UDRP complaint, and the sole panelist found in favor of the complainant, so the domain name will be transferred to the company that filed the UDRP. In my opinion, this is at the very least a $30,000 domain name (likely worth more), and the complainant was able to get it for the $1,500 filing fee plus attorney fees (barring a lawsuit by the domain owner).
Despite another UDRP panel’s decision that took the doctrine of laches into account, this panelist did not agree. According to the decision,
“The Panel is aware of a decision under the Policy in The New York Times Company v. Name Administration Inc. (BVI), NAF Claim No. FA1349045, where a Panel held that laches provided “a valid defense in any domain dispute where the facts so warrant”.
However desirable a limitation period may be – as other dispute resolution systems such as the Nominet Policy in force in the United Kingdom and New Zealand have recognised – under the Policy, laches can, in this Panel’s view, not be a defence. In this Panel’s view, laches is a purely equitable defence which can only be invoked in courts exercising an equitable jurisdiction. It can have no place in a system where the rules are set by the Policy which operates an administrative procedure.“
The panelist also cited a few other reasons for his decision, including the lack of a website in ten years of ownership, potential for confusion and brand tarnishment, as well as the “Respondent’s track record of bad faith findings in at least ten decisions under the Policy” (which weren’t listed).
I disagree with this decision though. There are 71 valid acronyms for PPD, according to the Acronym Finder website, and I don’t see why this one complainant deserves to be able to take it from the owner. I don’t believe the domain name was being used in a way that could confuse consumers into thinking it was associated with the complainant. I also don’t really see non-usage (or less than optimal usage) as bad faith.
Domain owners should read the decision and learn from it.
** Update **
I didn’t see this when I read through the complaint, but the respondent did attempt to respond to the complaint:
“On June 2, 2011, the Center received an email alleging to have been sent by “James van Johns representing, Damian Macafee, on behalf of ppd.com”. It is to be noted that the Complainant asserted that “James M. van Johns” was a pseudonym for the present Respondent. A similar claim as to the name of the Respondent was made in Sony Kabushiki Kaisha v Damian Macafee/QTK Internet, WIPO Case No. D2009-1134.
The email was received after the Panel had been appointed. A Response had been due on May 4, 2011. The purported filing of a Response on June 2, 2011, was therefore some four weeks out of time.
The only excuse offered for this late filing was “due to serious family health issues”. No evidence in support of this assertion was offered, such as a medical certificate or any details explaining this bland statement.
In the absence of any compelling evidence such as might justify acceptance of a late Response, the Panel has decided not to accept it. “