WIPO Panelist: “The business of buying and selling domain names can be a legitimate enterprise”

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In a UDRP decision that has not yet been uploaded on the WIPO website as of the time of publication, Donald Trump prevailed over the registrant of TrumpEstates.com. This morning, the New York Post published an article written by Julia Marsh that covered this UDRP (WIPO Case D2015-0478).

It’s not a surprise that Mr. Trump and his legal team scored a victory to secure the TrumpEstates.com domain name. What is a bit of a nice surprise is a sentence that WIPO panelist W. Scott Blackmer apparently included in his decision: “The business of buying and selling domain names can be a legitimate enterprise.” According to the NY Post article, Mr. Blackmer followed that up by stating,  “But it does not confer rights to use for that purpose a domain name identical or confusingly similar to another party’s trademark.”

Obviously the business of domain name investing is legitimate, and it has been for many years. Unfortunately, there are still some UDRP decisions that are a bit surprising  to me. When I read through a decision I disagree with because the domain name is descriptive or a short acronym that can have many meanings, I sometimes wonder if the UDRP panelist genuinely thinks that domain investing is a legitimate business.

There is a residential development in Dubai bearing the Trump Estates name, and I presume the company intends to use TrumpEstates.com in conjunction with this project. I would imagine there are ways to use the “trump” keyword without issue since it’s a keyword with meaning (like apple, sky, or box), but if a domain owner uses it in any way that would infringe on the Trump trademarks, they are likely to face a challenge.

Despite the fact that UDRP decisions are not like case law, it’s good to see a panelist acknowledge that buying and selling domain name is a legit business. Once the decision has been published on the WIPO website, I will provide a link to it.

1 COMMENT

  1. Thanks for the post, Elliot. However, I think the panelist’s comment speaks volumes about the sad state of our reputation when the domain industry has to be identified as a “legitimate enterprise” when it should be a “given” that it is. It’s like identifying real estate as a legitimate enterprise… when no one would think otherwise.

  2. If Trump Estates is a generic, then so is Facebook.

    Back in the day before Facebook, facebooks were used at colleges and universities as social directories for students, in particular the freshman class. The facebook contained photos of the students and short bios. I’m surprised that Zuckerberg was able to get a trademark on this name, given that the original use was similar to the generic meaning.

    Now try using the term “Facebook” in a domain name, even for its original meaning.

    Now colleges and universities have been forced to rename their facebooks as the “Social Directory.”

  3. The business of buying and selling domain names cannot be farther from being a legitimate enterprise. It is the activities of some unscrupulous elements who are ignorant of the workings of domaining or who know but chose to act otherwise that are undermining the industry.

  4. It’s SO SIMPLE !

    Give me the money and power to prove you that even breathing can become “illegal” not to mention the use of whatever domain as above (trumpestates, facebook, etc).

  5. Really? It seems this “domainer” is the very definition of a cybersquatter. When he offers for sale and says “this highly sought out domain name once owned by Donald Trump can now be yours” ……. should we expect a different decision?

    Offering it for sale for “$1 and a handshake” to Trump further evidences the fact that it had no value to the holder other than it’s relationship to the name or mark held by Trump he was infringing on. I’m not surprised a billionaire, out of principle would rather pay lawyers thousands to take the name instead of paying a single $1 bill.

    He would have been better to use the name for a site that sold plans for home-made chicken coupes …. TrumpEstates.com – luxury chicken coups – cluck it =)

  6. When I originally bought trumpestates.com I was excited it was available. I thought cool maybe this is a great way to meet my idol. But from day one I offered it to trump for A dollar and a handshake several yrs ago and when his lawyer told me no way, I decided to put it up for auction on my non profit website ebaynot.com and for yrs it sat there with no price just make offer. Then a yr or somlater I called trumps lawyer again to make the offer of a dollar and a handshake but again no way jose. So I put it on ebay.com for 10,000 bux and it sat there on a non profit listing for a couple more yrs. Then on feb 28 2015 trump sent me a cease and desist demand for the name. So before I called them to negotiate I went to ebay and raised the price to 21million knowing noone would pay that much for it but the site would get tons of recognition.
    Then I called trump and offered one last time for a dollar and a handshake and they said no way but we will give you 30.00 and an autograph book of trump woohoo.
    so I thought well now we are negotiating and said you know I bought this domain to meet the trump but since you turned me down I decided to add it to my collection of other domain names for sale to try and raise funds for my non profit the council for native american indian progress inc. At which time they said well in that case we will give you 300 dollars for trumpestates.com but you have to through in 420frosty.com too. At that moment I thought let me think about it and I will get back to you in a couple days.

    At no time in any of my conversations did I ever express any desire to be on his lousy show the apprentice.. as a matter of fact I never even watched one episode of it. So for them to lie and say I wanted to be on the show chaps my hide… the guy has billions of dollars, I was just looking to jumpstart my business scottnot.com with the notoriety of meeting the trump and the sale of trumpestates.com for a buck.
    well trump aint got the domain name and he did not win yet. I am currently suing him in federal court for 84 million and I still own the site…
    let memask you this, why is it that the people who own fucktrump.com dont get a cease and desist from trump? And why does godaddy own so many trump domain names and have them for sale for thousands of dollars and trump doesnt go after them?

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