A UDRP has been filed with the World Intellectual Property Organization for the descriptive geographic NorthernIreland.com domain name. According to the WIPO website, the UDRP Complainant is Invest Northern Ireland / Northern Ireland Tourist Board. It appears that this organization uses the longer DiscoverNorthernIreland.com domain name for its website, which probably explains why it wants NorthernIreland.com.
If you visit the NorthernIreland.com domain name, you can see that it is owned by Mike Mann’s company, and it is listed for sale on DomainMarket.com for $600,000. It appears that this domain name has been owned by Mann-affiliated companies for many years.
There have been quite a few UDRPs and lawsuits filed by cities, towns, countries, and other geographic areas, and most have not been successful. Some of these geographic legal cases include the following domain names: Pocatello.com, MyrtleBeach.comBarcelona.com,StMoritz.com, LomaLinda.com, and others. In fact, in the LomaLinda.com UDRP case, panelist Richard Page made a statement in his dissent which will hopefully be referenced in the NorthernIreland.com UDRP response: “the general rule that geographic names are not subject to trademark protection.” The LomaLinda.com UDRP was filed by a hospital rather than the city, and the winning respondent was represented by Ari Goldberger of ESQwire.com Law Firm.
Obviously, my opinion is that the domain owner should retain this domain name, and should a UDRP panel rule against the domain owner, a lawsuit should be brought by the owner to retain the asset.