A UDRP was filed at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) against the geographic tourism VisitQatar.com domain name. The UDRP is WIPO Case D2019-1758. I think this is going to be an interesting UDRP proceeding to observe.
The VisitQatar.com domain name was created in 2004. The domain name is privately registered at Name.com, and it looks like it has had a privacy proxy Whois registration for a few years. Using DomainTools Whois History tool, I can see the domain name had previously been owned by Worldwide Media, the company founded by Michael Berkens. VisitQatar.com was later sold to GoDaddy’s NameFind entity when Michael sold his portfolio to GoDaddy. Using the GoDaddy Appraisal tool’s comparable sales, I can see VisitQatar.com previously sold for $7,500.
Visit-geographic domain names have been quite popular over the years (my company owns several). Using NameBio, I can see more than 50 – four, five, and six figure sales of Visit city, state, region, and country domain names. GoDaddy’s comparable sales tool also shows additional sales not included in NameBio. Here are the five largest publicly reported sales for Visit geo domain names archived by NameBio:
- VisitFlorida.com – $186,000
- VisitStockholm.com – $70,000
- VisitSanFrancisco.com – $50,000
- VisitHouston.com – $25,175
- VisitPanamaCityBeach.com – $25,000
Clearly, this type of geographic domain name is valuable and desired.
This UDRP was filed by the Qatar National Tourism Council, the official Qatar Tourism Authority. This organization uses the Qatar ccTLD domain name, VisitQatar.qa for its website.
There are a handful of “Visit” geographic UDRP cases I could find on UDRP.Tools, and the results are mixed:
- VisitVersailles.com – Denied
- VisitTheFaroeIslands.com – Denied
- VisitNorway.us – Transfer
- VisitHouston.org – Transfer
- VisitCharlotte.com – Transfer
- VisitAmerica.com – Transfer
It is no surprise that the Qatar National Tourism Council would like to have the .com domain name that matches its ccTLD domain name, but I don’t see how it will prevail in a UDRP forum. The domain name is being used as a travel booking tool, and it will need to prove that the domain name was registered and is being used in bad faith. From my perspective, Visit Qatar seems pretty descriptive to me, and it looks like the registrant is offering a bonafide service on the domain name. I think the US trademark also strengthens its case substantially.
I will keep my eye on this UDRP filing and will share an update when I see it.
Update: Surprisingly, the domain registrant lost this UDRP, even with the assistance of attorney John Berryhill. It remains to be seen if the registrant files litigation to retain the domain name. That would be an expensive fight, especially considering the complainant.