Ron Paul loses both domain disputes over RonPaul.com and RonPaul.orgSubmitted by Canada on Thu, 05/23/2013 - 22:10
Ron Paul lost his bid to take control of the RonPaul.com and RonPaul.org domain names. In the case of RonPaul.com the panel ruled that Ron Paul did not prove the current owners lack rights or legitimate interest in the domain. In the case of RonPaul.org, the panel harshly rebuked Dr. Paul's claim, finding that he engaged in reverse domain hijacking.
Reverse domain hijacking occurs where a trademark owner attempts to secure a domain name by making false cybersquatting claims against a domain name’s rightful owner. UDRP rules define reverse domain name hijacking as the filing of a complaint in bad faith, resulting in the abuse of the UDRP administrative process.
The decision is worth reading.
According to the decision, the criteria that must be met for the Complainant to win the domain from the Respondent are:
1. the Domain Name registered by Respondent is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which Complainant has rights;
2. Respondent has no rights to or legitimate interests in respect of the Domain Name; and
3. Respondent has registered and is using the Domain Name in bad faith.
The panel decided that it would not rule one way or the other on (1).
All the Respondent needed to do is show *any* legitimate right or interest in respect of the domain name OR that the domain name was registered in good faith.
The panel accepted the argument that because the site was a legitimate fan site, the criteria of legitimate interest is met. The site has disclaimers on it clearly stating it isn't Ron Paul's official web site, and the panel concludes that the content of the site falls under Fair Use anyway. The fact that the Respondent offered to give Ron Paul the RonPaul.org domain was icing on the cake.
Personally, I hope RonPaul.org is still offered for free.
Just so all of you are clear, ownership of a trademark, even if the trademark is registered and beyond dispute, does NOT give the trademark owner the right to "exact_trademark_match.COM". The gTLD registries operate on a first come, first served basis. UDRP was a massive shift of policy in favor of trademark owners as it provides reasonable grounds for breaking the first come, first served rule.