Cincinnati Zoo gets eleven years later

Zoo moved slower than a turtle but will now get

It took them a while, but one of the nation’s oldest zoos now has its .com domain name.

A World Intellectual Property Organization panel has ordered the domain name be transferred to the Zoological Society of Cincinnati, dba Cincinnati Zoo.

The zoo has used the domain name since 2001, which was the same year the .com was registered. A lot of people likely went to the .com domain, but it begs the question “why did it take so long for the zoo to file the complaint?”

Over the past year, UDRP panels have been more willing to consider delays in filing complaints as a factor in their decision.

Panelist Tony Willoughby discussed this delay (laches) in his decision, but ultimately decided in the zoo’s favor. It didn’t help that the domain owner didn’t reply to the complaint.

What is surprising to the Panel is that the Complainant has taken no action until now. It seems inconceivable to the Panel that the Complainant cannot have been aware of the Domain Name since at least September 8, 2001 when it registered its domain name, . Checking the status of the “.com” equivalent of the Domain Name would have been an obvious step to take.

The Panel is aware that there is currently a debate among some panels as to whether “laches” is a defence to a complaint under the Policy. The Policy makes no mention of “laches” (or delay) and the Panel sees no reason to introduce such a concept. In many of the cases where panels have dismissed complaints on the basis of delay, the complaints could easily have failed on other grounds (e.g. lack of bad faith). In this case, the Respondent has not sought to argue the point and, in any event, such delay as there has been has been of no commercial disadvantage to the Respondent. The Respondent has simply had more time than it might reasonably have expected in order to derive a commercial benefit through use of the Domain Name. Moreover, it is not as if the commercial use that the Respondent has made of the Domain Name over the last 11 years has given to the Respondent any rights or legitimate interests in respect of the Domain Name.


  1. says

    Even after 11 year this is the right thing to do. If there is little or no following at the .com, it should be relinquished. I wish this would be done with patents, since most are just used for bargaining with other companies.

  2. Donny says

    This is bad. The .com was registered before hand. So if you own a geo name and it was registered in a .com before a .org you are still at risk. This does not make sense.

    It is a zoo but what if it was for a geo loan domain name. Or whatever..

    Maybe I am reading this wrong. But this does nothing to favor geo domain owners.

  3. Smaad says

    Sickening decision. This is a generic domain.

    Hello!!!!!!!!! Nobody sees this as outright theft of property? I sure do.

  4. Josh says

    Wow, so there is not even a trademark for cincinnati zoo!

    This is complete bullshit, hello!!!

    How is 1 zoo suddenly a monopoly on all zoo’s?

    They were using dot org? Most Zoo’s rake in millions of profits every year.

    Jesus christ whoever wrote this is brain-dead and a disgrace to all domainers.

  5. Rob says

    some of the comments above are truly astounding.


    without looking it up, i imagine the definition for a zoo is something like “a collection of different animal species for private and/or public display, education and enjoyment”. so how many people can REALLY justify owning a (geo)zoo.ext domain? VERY VERY FEW. the only other purpose to own such a domain is to sit on it and wait for a big payout (extortion) from someone who does have a legitimate use for it.

    @josh: “most zoos rake in millions” so what? does that justify extortion? that is akin to the mafia extorting from a shop owner simply because they are making good profits.

  6. says

    Smaad – while one is – for the most part – allowed to have property, certain laws, standards, etc. essentially limit what one can and can’t do with it. It so happens UDRP addresses what one can and can’t necessarily do with a domain name.

    If the respondent knew and/or replied to the dispute, s/he might’ve stood a chance against it. Alas, we’ll probably never know.

    Wow, so there is not even a trademark for cincinnati zoo!

    Josh, from the decision (if you’re interested in reading it):

    The Complainant has satisfied the Panel that, by virtue of its use of the name “Cincinnati Zoo” over the last 90 years, the Complainant will have acquired unregistered trade mark rights in the USA in relation to the operation of zoos and the provision of related educational and cultural services.

    Look up common law trademark if you’re unfamiliar with the concept.

  7. Josh says

    @Rob so according to you, the property who has the largest collection of animals should be awarded the corresponding .com? That is profoundly stupid.

    @Dave I am semi-familiar with common law trademarks. However, if we are talking about petting zoos in CinCin then there is more than one show in town.

    IMO the domain owner is a jackass for not responding here. Easily the Zoo would have been WILLING to pay at least low $xx,xxxx figures to have this domain name.

    Now they got it for free using their own extortion methods, and I find it hilarious and ironic some people in this thread are claiming some justice on this issue.

    Regardless of if the owner had an established Zoo or not, does not mean ANY zoo should be able to claim rights to a generic domain. If the LA Zoo was the biggest Zoo in the world, should it also own

    The UDRP is a crapshoot, and I have seen absurd decisions being made. But most of the time, it is because the respondent is too lazy to write a few paragraphs or they think they need their own John Berryhill to figure this stuff out.

  8. ChuckWagen says

    “Easily the Zoo would have been WILLING to pay at least low $xx,xxxx figures to have this domain name.”

    If you mean five figures, you’re seriously out of touch.

  9. says

    Now they got it for free using their own extortion methods

    The complainant paid for that UDRP, so I’m not really getting the “got it for free” part.

    A trademark doesn’t grant some kind of absolute, exclusive claim over any and all variations of it, albeit that doesn’t stop some TM holders from foolishly believing still. Then again, I don’t recall seeing the complainant in this dispute claim such, although one might believe so anyway.

    In any case, the complainant paid, filed, and proved their case against the domain’s registrant. Unless the registrant then files a dispute in court based on maybe what the mutual jurisdiction part indicates (not sure about that detail), then all this discussion is essentially moot.

    As some lawyers would say: (civil) disputes happen every other day. That’s what courts, mediation panels, and lawyers are for. (well, for the most part anyway despite one’s potential cynicism…)

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