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UDRP cybersquatting complaints increase in first half of 2012

August 30, 2012Domaining, Domainnamewire, National Arbitration Forum, Policy & Law, udrp, world intellectual property organizationComments Off on UDRP cybersquatting complaints increase in first half of 2012

Two largest UDRP services saw increased activity in first half of the year.

The number of cybersquatting complaints filed in the first half of 2012 was up 9% compared to the first half of 2011.

That’s according to data provided by World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and National Arbitration Forum (NAF), the two largest arbitration services for the uniform domain name dispute resolution policy (UDRP).

WIPO received 1,764 cases in the first half of this year, compared to 1,584 last year. That’s an 11% jump. NAF received 1,150 cases, up from 1,087 last year. That’s 6%, and a 9% increase when you put both together.

Despite some news reports to the contrary, combined UDRP cases at the top two providers actually fell slightly in 2011 to 2010. WIPO saw an increase but it was more than cancelled out by a decrease in cases at NAF last year.

Although the number of cases filed in the first half of this year is up, the only thing this shows for sure is that UDRP filings are up. You can’t draw conclusions about changes in cybersquatting activity from these numbers alone for many reasons:

1. Many complaints are ruled invalid.

2. Filings don’t necessarily correlate to overall cybersquatting activity and can merely reflect changes in enforcement activities (especially by a few firms that file massive numbers of cases).

3. A single case can cover multiple domain names.

4. UDRP is often a last resort for brand holders. Many more cybersquatting issues are resolved through informal means than formal ones.

5. The base of registered second level domain names continues to climb. Compared to the total number of domain names registered, the number of cases filed is at or near all time lows.


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National Arbitration Forum continues to hand majority of cases to select panelists

August 28, 2012Domaining, Domainnamewire, National Arbitration Forum, Policy & Law, udrpComments Off on National Arbitration Forum continues to hand majority of cases to select panelists

Seven panelists hear nearly half of all NAF UDRP cases.

Zak Muscovitch has updated his National Arbitration Forum (NAF) panelist study originally released in 2010.

The results published on DNAttorney.com have basically the same conclusion as his original report: the National Arbitration Forum hands most of its caseload to a select group of panelists.

Just seven American panelists heard nearly half of all of NAF’s caseload from March 5, 2010 – July 4, 2012.

It’s worth pointing out that these results are in stark contrast to panelist distribution at World Intellectual Property Organization, NAF’s main competitor in the UDRP business. When the original report came out in 2010 I took a look at WIPO’s numbers. The difference was shocking.

At that point, even the most active WIPO panelist wouldn’t fall into the top 10 at National Arbitration Forum. Additionally, the five most active panelists at WIPO were in the bottom quartile when it came to finding in favor of the complainant and transferring or canceling a domain.

In 2010 I aksed David Roache-Turner, Head – Domain Name Dispute Resolution Section at WIPO, about these findings. He responded:

As you would be aware, none of the most frequently appointed WIPO panelists even remotely approach the remarkable NAF appointment shares now receiving attention. In apparently sharp contrast to the situation elsewhere, of the most frequently appointed WIPO panelists, the transfer rate is, as you would also know, well within the overall average for all UDRP panelists.

In 2010 National Arbitration Forum explained to ICANN how it ends up favoring a select few panelists. It was responding to questions regarding the proposed Uniform Rapid Suspension scheme:

Some practical considerations the Forum asks ICANN to contemplate before promulgating specific rotational rules are that some panelists are simply far more available than others. There are some panelists who refuse most cases, some who have conflicts, and others who take more time than the Policy and Rules have allotted to accept the case. So, while the Forum endeavors to appoint panelists in as fair a rotation as possible, there are varying considerations that should be taken into account.

You might take those claims at face value if you didn’t have WIPO to compare.


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UDRP panelists don’t do their job deciding reverse domain name hijacking

August 20, 2012Domaining, Domainnamewire, National Arbitration Forum, Policy & Law, udrp, world intellectual property organizationComments Off on UDRP panelists don’t do their job deciding reverse domain name hijacking

Panelists don’t always consider RDNH when asked, and both WIPO and NAF don’t seem to care.

On Friday I wrote about the UDRP decision for AboutDotMed.com et al. This morning I read the decision for J-brand.com.

In both cases the respondents won. In both cases the respondents asked for reverse domain name hijacking. But in neither case did the panelist make a decision (either way) about reverse domain name hijacking.

Yet the World Intellectual Property Organization and National Arbitration Forum allowed the decisions to be published in their incomplete form.

When a respondent asks for reverse domain name hijacking, it is the panelists responsibility to consider it and make a ruling. In fact, a UDRP panelist can make a ruling of RDNH without the respondent even tasking.

If you turn in unfinished work at school, you either get a failing grade or the homework is returned to you to complete. If you turn in an unfinished project at work it will be counted against you. You might even be fired. Yet for some reason, both major UDRP groups let panelists turn in unfinished decisions.

Why are panelists allowed to shirk their duties? Why do the arbitration managers let them turn in unfinished decisions?


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Wow: Craigslist loses Craigslists.com domain dispute

August 10, 2012Domaining, Domainnamewire, National Arbitration Forum, Policy & Law, udrpComments Off on Wow: Craigslist loses Craigslists.com domain dispute

UDRP panel doesn’t understand that page is just an automated parked page.

Online classifieds site Craigslist has lost a case against one Craig Solomon for the domain name CraigsLists.com (note the extra ‘s’ at the end).

The National Arbitration Forum panel relied heavily on laches — Craigslist’s delay in filing the dispute — in coming to its determination. Although that’s great news for domain investors, at the end of the day I think the panel was duped.

The panel determined that the domain name was not registered and used in bad faith because the site at the domain offers services distinct from Craigslist’s bread and butter of classified ads. Instead, the panel determined that CraigsLists.com merely includes a directory to businesses.

It also said that laches was a key strike against Craigslist. Why did the classifieds superpower wait nine years after the “typo” CraigsLists.com was registered to file a dispute?

And that brings us to how the panel got duped.

Here’s what it wrote about how this nine year delay harms the domains owner:

We find that Complainant’s delay in bringing this proceeding is not excusable. Finally, that evidence indicates that Respondent has been engaged in his business for nine years, has developed relationships with the service providers listed on his website, and has devoted time and money to establishing his business. Respondent would suffer prejudice if the domain name were transferred.

Now, you tell me what you see when you go to CraigsLists.com.

What you are viewing is a framed page of CraigSolomon.net. CraigSolomon.net is just a parked page at SmartName.

So the evidence is that the domain owner has not “developed relationships with the service providers listed on his website”. Hardly any time or money went into forwarding this domain name.

I guess it’s not the panel’s job to investigate the use of the page. Craigslist’s lawyers should have pointed this out.


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Disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff loses domain name fight with Democrats

July 31, 2012Domaining, Domainnamewire, jack abramoff, National Arbitration Forum, Policy & Law, udrpComments Off on Disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff loses domain name fight with Democrats

Jack Abramoff fails in arbitration over domain name.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) can keep the domain name JackAbramoff.com, a National Arbitration Forum panel has ruled.

Former lobbyist Jack Abramoff filed the complaint arguing that the DCCC was using the domain name to disrupt his business, which includes speaking engagements and selling books. The democrats forward the domain name to a page on its web site blasting Abramoff and his connection to republicans.

The National Arbitration Panel ruled against Jack Abramoff.

1. He did not show he had trademark rights in the name.

Complainant has provided no evidence of actual use of JACK ABRAMOFF as a trademark in connection with particular goods or services prior to the time Respondent registered the disputed domain name. Complainant claims to be “famous,” yet the record reflects he is, in fact, “infamous”. In any event, “fame” of an individual name does not equal trademark rights in and to that name. Complainant would have to prove secondary meaning therein to establish trademark rights. Complainant has not done so.

2. the DCCC has rights or legitimate interests in the domain name.

Respondent argues that it uses the domain name exclusively in connection with political speech. Respondent asserts that it has concerns with Complainant’s attempt to re-characterize himself as being reformed and that corruption needs not to be forgotten. Respondent asserts that it therefore uses the domain name to display information regarding Complainant’s association with a political scandal.

3. The domain wasn’t registered and used in bad faith.

Complainant asserts that Respondent’s registration and use of the domain name is disruptive to Complainant’s business. On the other hand, Respondent argues that it is not now nor previously was a competitor of Complainant. Respondent argues that, at the time of the domain name registration by Respondent, any public awareness of Complainant or connected to the JACK ABRAMOFF mark was only in connection with political corruption and felony charges. Therefore, Respondent argues that it could not have registered the domain name with the intent to disrupt Complainant because Complainant was not engaged in any commerce at that time. Respondent further asserts that it is currently not a competitor of Complainant’s because the books that are sold on the domain name website do not generate revenue for Respondent and are not related in substance to Complainant.

Therefore, the Panel finds that Respondent did not register and is not using the domain name in bad faith…

UDRP junkies will note that the panel overlooked the fact that the democrats raise money on the web site by selling books and collecting donations. Previous panels have ruled that any sort of money making activity can be proof of bad faith.


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High traffic Google typo oogle.com hit with UDRP

June 12, 2012Domaining, Domainnamewire, National Arbitration Forum, oogle.com, Policy & Law, udrpComments Off on High traffic Google typo oogle.com hit with UDRP

Complaint filed against domain that sends traffic to survey and adult sites.

A complaint has been filed with National Arbitration Forum over the high traffic domain name oogle.com.

National Arbitration Forum does not disclose the name of complainants until a case is decided, but you can bet good money that Google filed the dispute.

A poster on domain forum DNForum in April claimed that the site received 450,000+ unique visitors a month, undoubtedly from people who forget to type the ‘g’ in front of Google. The person was trying to sell the domain for $300,000 or lease it for $5,000 per month.

If you type in the domain name, odds are it will forward to a “survey” site claiming that you can complete a survey and get an Apple product. The logo font on the page doesn’t mimic Google, but notice the colors of the present next to the title.

According to this YouTube video, the domain has forwarded to the survey site since at least last year. However, the post on DNForum suggests it might forward to adult content. Indeed, Screenshots.com shows a NSFW landing page for Ashley Madison on March 25, 2012. So the owner of the domain is splitting the traffic.

The domain is registered to Florida web hosting company Blue Arctic LLC.


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This could have been reverse domain hijacking had the domain owner responded…

April 30, 2012Domaining, Domainnamewire, National Arbitration Forum, reverse domain name hijacking, udrp, UncategorizedComments Off on This could have been reverse domain hijacking had the domain owner responded…

Your comadre wouldn’t approve.

The National Arbitration Forum has found against Texas company Comadre Commerce, LLC in arbitration over the domain name Comadre.com.

This is despite the owner of the domain name not responding. Had the owner responded, this case could have been an easy case of reverse domain name hijacking.

First things first, comadre is a generic term meaning “godmother” in Spanish.

Second, Comadre Commerce said it had a trademark registration with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. But it only attached a printout from the USPTO concerning a Trademark Office Action Response. Here’s why: it really just has pending application that was filed after the respondent registered the domain — and it was filed as an intent to use application. So there’s no way the complainant could argue that the respondent registered the domain name in bad faith. It tried anyway.

The complainant also claimed that it made several reasonable offers to the domain owner, which the owner denied or ignored.

There’s also the puzzling assertion that (in the panelist’s words) “Respondent’s unauthorized use of Complainant’s image on Respondent’s various websites constitutes copyright and trademark infringement in violation of Title 17 U.S.C. Section 106(a) of the Copyright Act of 1976.”

Given that the complainant tried to buy the domain name multiple times and the domain was registered prior to its intent-to-use trademark filing and it’s a generic term and the Comadre Commerce was represented by counsel, I’d argue this is a clear case of reverse domain name hijacking.


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EA loses domain dispute for SSX.com for upcoming SSX launch

January 5, 2012Domaining, Domainnamewire, electronic arts, National Arbitration Forum, Policy & Law, ssx, udrpComments Off on EA loses domain dispute for SSX.com for upcoming SSX launch

Video game maker unsuccessful in challenge to SSX.com domain name.

SSXElectronic Arts releases a reinvention of the SSX snowboarding video game next month, but it has failed to convince an arbitration panel that it deserves the domain name SSX.com.

The domain name was purchased by Abstract Holdings International LTD as part of a $200,000 domain name portfolio purchase last October. For a brief period of time the domain name was parked with ads related to video games.

EA pounced on this brief infringing pay-per-click usage to show bad faith on the part of the registrant.

For its part, the registrant admitted a brief bad faith use of the domain name but said the domain wasn’t registered in bad faith.

The three person National Arbitration Forum panel determined that EA did not establish a prima facie case of bad faith:

The EA allegations of bad faith in part are based upon the lack of due diligence conducted by retailers of domain names like Respondent. EA would seem to require that entities like Respondent conduct an international search for relatively obscure trademarks in order to determine whether a name is a registered mark. The Panel is not willing to go so far, as discussed below.

Still, and particularly in this case, the Respondent is treading on thin ice. A fair reading of its pleadings reveals that Respondent made absolutely no attempt to examine its purchases for domain names which were also trademarks. Again, here, at least one “generic” string of three letters has been trademarked and is perhaps a common law mark of a number of business and other entities in a number of lines of business all around the world. Given the ease of searches using the common tools of the Internet, how much is it to ask of a retailer like Respondent to do a little extra work?

The panel also determined that the domain registrant had established rights or legitimate interests in the SSX.com domain name.

The respondent was represented by domain name attorney Zak Muscovitch of The Muscovitch Law Firm.


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Verizon Gets CitiBank Trademark Domain?

September 15, 2011Domaining, Domainnamewire, National Arbitration Forum, Policy & Law, udrpComments Off on Verizon Gets CitiBank Trademark Domain?

Cut and past error shows Verizon Trademark Services winning CityCard.com UDRP.

We’ve seen a number of UDRP decisions that fall victim to cut-and-paste mistakes. The latest comes courtesy of a National Arbitration Forum panelist who copied the header from his previous UDRP case into the new one.

The new case is Citigroup Inc. v. Yongki over CityCard.com. Citigroup won the case, but you would know it from the header. The header says the case was Verizon Trademark Services LLC v. Kim Jong Su.

Why the mixup? The same panelist on CityCard.com wrote the Verizon decision for verision.com. Apparently he used the same template and forgot to change the header.

Practically speaking this error won’t lead to any sort of problem and will be corrected soon. But it would have been a bigger problem had the panelist accidentally left a different part of the Verizon UDRP intact.


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NameMedia Sends “School Webmasters” Back to School

September 8, 2011Domaining, Domainnamewire, NameMedia, National Arbitration Forum, Policy & Law, udrpComments Off on NameMedia Sends “School Webmasters” Back to School

Arizona company loses domain name dispute over SchoolWebmaster.com.

NameMedia, which runs domain name marketplaces Afternic and BuyDomains, has taught the owner of SchoolWebmasters.com a lesson.

ScribeWrite, LLC operates as School Webmasters (schoolwebmasters.com), which provides web site services to schools and teachers. It filed a complaint with National Arbitration Forum in July, asking for it to award the domain name SchoolWebmaster.com (singular) to it.

NameMedia acquired SchoolWebmaster.com in 2006 after it expired. This was months before ScribeWrite even started using “School Webmaster” as a mark in commerce according to U.S. Patent and Trademark Office records.

Nevertheless, ScribeWrite didn’t want to to pay much for the domain name. It sent a cease and desist letter to NameMedia demanding the domain name for $800.

When that failed it paid $1,000+ to hire a lawyer and file a UDRP.

The UDRP panelist found the domain name wasn’t registered in bad faith and that NameMedia has rights and legitimate interests in the domain — one of hundreds it owns that combine a generic term with “webmaster”.

NameMedia’s current asking price for SchoolWebmaster.com? Just $3,088. A little negotiation could get that down to $2,000 or $2,500. So I’m confused by ScribeWrite’s approach to getting the domain.


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