Thursday, September 13th, 2012
Socal may be a typo of social.com, but it also means something.
I frequently write about when UDRP panels make the wrong decision, and sometimes that’s the case even when they find for the respondent. Some domainers give me grief for it, but I call it how I see it.
Last night Michael Berkens wrote about the decision for LivingSocal.com, which LivingSocial.com said was a typo, and how he thought the decision in favor of the respondent would get trademark holders up in arms:
The panel found in a pretty strange decision, which will have Trademark groups screaming for UDRP reform, that the domain name stands for a “common term” and means, as the domain holder suggested “living in SoCal.”
I think trademark groups would make a huge mistake if they used this case as an example. Quite simply, the panel got it right.
Before the case was even filed I thought there might be a legitimate dispute. Once it was filed I said it could go either way depending on the full story. Now that we have the full story, this domain clearly should remain with the registrant.
SoCal is a very common abbreviation for Southern California. I’m familiar with the term because I’ve read SocalTech.com when it writes about Oversee.net.
The registrant of the domain name lives in Southern California, so it makes perfect sense for him to own it. The problem (as I saw it before reading the decision) is that if you go to LivingSocal.com it lands on a parked page, which previously showed PPC ads related to daily deals.
But this has to do with a technical issue instead of a willful attempt to make money off a LivingSocial.com typo.
As it turns out, the domain owner is a real estate agent. If you type www.LivingSocal.com into your browser you’ll land on his actual web site.
You’ll notice that the owner is using Go Daddy’s DNS (the domain is registered at a Wild West Domains reseller) and has the site hosted on Google Sites. That likely means he went in and messed with the A records and such, and user error meant the non-www version still resolved to a “coming soon” page. If you look at his site you’ll realize he’s not some web site ninja. This kind of mistake is fairly common.
When you add it all up, this was a perfectly legitimate domain name registration. A real estate agent in SoCal registered a domain name that has to do with living in SoCal. He registered and used it in good faith. End of story.
I don’t blame LivingSocial.com for filing the case, as it probably wasn’t aware of all the facts. The whois record was protected by privacy, and if its lawyer didn’t type in www (which few people do), he wouldn’t have realized it was owned by a SoCal real estate agent.
Lest you have any further doubt about this whole SoCal term, the following case decision from WIPO just popped into my inbox: MySocalGas.com was transferred to Southern California Gas Company.