An interesting UDRP decision against a criticism site
Wednesday, June 6th, 2012
Dar Al-Arkan gets a domain, but doesn’t solve its problem.
So-called gripe sites, which are critical of a company or person, are handled differently by various UDRP panels. A recent case brought by Saudi Arabia’s Dar Al-Arkan Real Estate Development Company is a case in point.
Dar Al-Arkan filed the complaint against the owner of daralarkan-crisis.com. The owner of the site makes a number of allegations against the company and publishes what Dar Al-Arkan says are confidential documents. The owner is not profiting from the site.
I think it’s safe to say that anyone who went to that domain name would know ahead of time that it wasn’t owned by Dar Al-Arkan given the “crisis” term.
Here’s what the panel had to say on the matter:
The Panel is aware of the issue whether a criticism site can give rise to a right or legitimate interest for the purpose of Paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Rules because it amounts to a legitimate noncommercial or fair use of the domain name. This issue was considered at length and the views of UDRP panelists in other cases were reviewed extensively in Chubb Security Australia PTY Limited v. Mr. Shahim Tahmasebi, WIPO Case No. D2007-0769. The Panel agrees with the view expressed in this case that it is not legitimate to use the Complainant’s own trademark as a platform for criticizing the Complainant itself. Also, as stated in that decision, there is nothing to prevent the Respondent from choosing a domain name that more accurately states its purpose as a criticism site and is not identical or confusingly similar to the Complainant’s trademark.
The panel goes on to say that its decision in favor of Dar Al-Akran was swayed by the domain owner publishing confidential documents and by its efforts to hide its identify.
I’m not sold on this position. It seems outside the scope of UDRP.
It won’t be a big deal for the respondent, however. The domain already forwards to an entirely different domain sukuk-compliance.com. If Dar Al-Arkan really wants to get this information offline, filing a UDRP is the wrong approach.