Angels lose UDRP for Angels.com.
The Los Angeles Angels Major League Baseball team has lost its fight for Angels.com. The organization filed for a UDRP in February claiming rights to the trademark “Angels” and that the current registrant was using it in bad faith. The Angels filed for arbitration after the owner of the domain, Lee Dongyeon of South Korea, offered to sell it for $300,000 to an unidentified agent. Dongyeon purchased the domain for roughly $25,000 in 2005.
Dongyeon defended his rights to the domain name citing the general nature of the domain Angels.com:
‘Angel,’ meaning God’s messenger, is one of the first words Respondent got to know when he began learning English as a foreign language. Respondent has been calling his two children ‘Angels.’ Respondent’s daughter calls herself ‘Daddy’s Angel.’ Respondent purchased
, thinking about that familiar word, and not of ten-odd baseball players who do their job in California, U.S.A., which Respondent had never visited….It is recognized that Complainant’s mark is similar to the domain in dispute. However, the word ‘Angels’ is a general noun, having no discrimination whatsoever. Complainant only has limited rights to the trademark ‘Angels,’ not being granted exclusive possession rights to the word ‘Angels’ itself.
Dongyeon claims Angels Baseball tried to entrap him with its offer to buy the domain, since an inquiry was made through a broker not identifying himself as representing Angels Baseball. He also owns the “Angels” trademark in Korea.
Part of Angels Baseball’s claims was that the domain served ads related to baseball and tickets. The domain was parked at Sedo and Angels Baseball used the parking page as evidence. Dongyeon defended the parking page:
After purchasing the
domain name, Respondent connected it to a paid search site managed by a third party, Sedoparking.com administered by Sedo.com which is based in Germany. Sedoparking.com adopts Geo-targeting system in which, when a person uses Google keyword search ads, different search results display depending on which country the user resides in, according to Google’s policy.
When domain owners choose several keywords relating to their web pages, the sites of advertisers who have paid for those matching keywords get linked to the domain pages. Where linked ad sites vary depending on where (in which country) Internet users are. Due to these features of Geo-targeting system of Google, Respondent had never known that Respondent’s web page contains links relating to Complainant before Respondent received the notice of dispute. Respondent became aware of the existence of the links to ticket-selling sites of the baseball games that Complainant provides only after Respondent viewed the web page provided as evidence material by Complainant.
The panel found in Dongyeon’s favor:
The Panel finds that the domain name in dispute is identical to the ANGELS marks, in which Complainant has rights. The Panel further finds that before receiving notice of the present dispute Respondent registered the ANGELS service mark in Korea, which registration gives Respondent a title to the domain name. Accordingly, the Panel found that Respondent has rights or legitimate interest in the domain name. Finally, the Panel finds that Complainant failed to prove that Respondent was aware of Complainant or Complainant’s mark at the time of the registration of the domain name in dispute.
By filing a UDRP, the Angels were trying to spend a few thousand dollars to get the domain rather than a few hundred thousand. By losing, they might end up paying a few million. Such is UDRP roulette.