Arizona State Trailer Sales, Inc. d/b/a Little Dealer Little Prices RV v. World Wide RV, No. FA1003001315658 (Nat’l Arb. Forum, May 7, 2010)
Startups in the process of selecting a company or product name are often frustrated to see that someone else, years ago, registered the .com version of their newly thought-of name. Similarly, companies that have acquired a trademark registration wonder whether they can use their crisp new registration certificate to stomp out someone else who has been using a domain name similar to the company’s new mark.
A recent case arising under the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP for short) shows us that the earlier domain name registration is usually going to be on solid ground against a later-arriving trademark owner.
In the case of Arizona State Trailer Sales, Inc. d/b/a Little Dealer Little Prices RV v. World Wide RV, a National Arbitration Forum panelist denied the trademark owner’s cybersquatting claim against another company who had registered the domain name version of the trademark in 2006.
To be successful under the UDRP, the complainant would have had to show:
- the domain name registered by the respondent was identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which the complainint had rights;
- the respondent had no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the domain name; and
- the domain name had been registered and was being used in bad faith.
The complaint failed on the first of these three elements. The panel found that the requirement of being identical or confusingly similiar “necessarily implies that Complainant’s rights must predate the registration of Registrant’s domain name.” Since the domain name in this case was registered years before, there was no relief to be had. The request to transfer the domain name was denied.
Salu, Inc. v. Original Skin Store, Slip Copy, 2010 WL 1444617 (E.D.Cal. April 12, 2010)
This is kind of a wonky trademark/domain name case. So if that’s not in your wheelhouse, don’t strain yourself.
Plaintiff sued defendant for infringement of plaintiff’s registered trademark. Defendant moved for summary judgment, claiming that the asserted trademark registration was obtained by fraud on the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Specifically, defendant argued that plaintiff misrepresented when it told the USPTO that its SKINSTORE mark had “acquired distinctiveness” (i.e., was not merely descriptive of the goods and servcies) by means of “substantially exclusive” use in commerce.
The court denied the motion for summary judgment.
Defendant had argued that plaintiff committed fraud by saying its use was exclusive. It pointed to a case under the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP) that the plaintiff had brought against the user of the domain name eskinstore.com. The WIPO panel in that case refused to find a clear case of cybersquatting.
In this case, defendant argued that plaintiff’s earlier unsuccessful UDRP challenge to a similar mark showed there were third parties using the mark and therefore the claim of exclusivity was fraudulent.
The court rejected this argument, noting that the plaintiff had undertaken significant efforts to protect its exclusive rights in the trademark. (It had sent out an astounding 300 cease and desist letters in the past couple of years alone!)
Moreover, and more importantly, the court noted that the WIPO panel hearing the UDRP complaint specifically declined to determine cybersquatting had occurred, finding it to be a question of infringement better addressed by the United States courts.
Enrico Schaefer of Traverse Legal sent me a link to a tool called DomainFight.net, which promises to be very useful. It’s a simple interface to allow one to easily search for decisions under the UDRP issued by both the National Arbitration Forum and the World Intellectual Property Organization. Try it out!
Saturday, April 26, 2008 marks the ninth annual World Intellectual Property Day. Begun in 2000 by the World Intellectual Property Organization, World IP Day aims to illustrate the benefits of and cultivate respect for IP. WIPO’s Director highlights this in a message noting that IP development and protection contributes to new technologies and an overall richer human experience for everything from the means to tackle global warming to watching the world wide broadcast of the Olympic games, and that IP nurtures human creativity, while fostering cultural, economic, and social development. From the telegraph to the Internet, IP increasingly connects the world.
Each country celebrates World IP Day in its own way, and a list of scheduled activities can be found here; a list of suggested activities such as concerts, essay-writing contests, and general awareness-building activities can be found here. A gallery of past and present artwork celebrating World IP Day is available here (this year’s poster here).