Domain Name Wire

Domain Name Wire

  • WalMart loses web site battle against United Food & Commercial Workers International Union

    1. BY - Oct 17, 2012
    2. Policy & Law
    3. 3 Comments

    Arbitration panel rules union can keep domain names used to criticize retailer.

    Wal-Mart has failed to take down a United Food & Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) web site critical of Walmart.

    A single member World Intellectual Property Organization arbitration panel has ruled that the UFCW can retain its domain names Walmartat50.com, walmartat50.com, walmartat50.net and walmartat50.org.

    Walmartat50.com is a web site that seeks to give the union’s take on WalMart:

    As Walmart celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, the company is telling customers and communities a one-sided story about its business and values. Walmart wants us to think their history reflects the promise of America –if you work hard, anything is possible.

    The site was created after Walmart created its own web site to commemorate 50 years in business, Walmart50.com.

    The panel ruled that the domain names weren’t registered and used in bad faith.

    I’m a bit surprised by the decision. Although gripe sites can be protected in WIPO UDRP decisions, typically they use domain names that are clearly distinguishable from the trademark holder’s (e.g. “sucks”. In this case you have to visit the site to realize it’s not owned by Walmart. As the panelist points out, it’s not even entirely clear until you poke around the UFCW site a bit.

    I’m also surprised that the panelist agreed that the UFCW is “not using the Disputed Domain Names to its own commercial advantage; there is neither advertising nor requests for financial support on Respondent’s website.” The site provides a clear business advantage to the union, and even has a lead generation petition form. Just because the site doesn’t have paid advertising or direct requests for contributions doesn’t mean it’s not being used for financial gain.

3 Comments
  • The panellists are right, unlike Walmart, a Workers Union is not a for profit enterprise, unless you consider fighting for better living conditions and demanding better treatment from corporations a “profit”.

    So, there isn’t any financial gain behind the website.

  • some may consider this to be off topic but it is not: i think it is a crime that unions (and churches, charities, etc) are considered non-profit. rubbish. they are just big business or “questionable” people cleverly disguised as non-profit. it is astounding just how much money is siphoned off for personal use or paid to mates or themselves in other businesses. take a look at craig thomson and julia gillard (our prime minister can you believe it?!) in australia to see what goes on within unions. i have heard many many second hand accounts of what goes on within unions, churches and charities, so much that i despise them all.

    as for the domain name itself, i think that was a bad decision too. to me it seems like they were trying to copy the 50th anniversary site and take away traffic from it – it does NOT sound like the name for a gripe site. why could the panel not see this? is/will the union try to sell it to walmart for a “nice” price? did the panelists get a reward for a decision like this? i wonder!

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