Panelist questions Zions Bank’s decision to file a UDRP.
I want to give World Intellectual Property Organization panelist Tony Willoughby some credit.
He recently decided a case involving Zions Bank. He found in favor of a person in Pakistan who registered ZionVPN.com to start a VPN internet service.
It was quite clear what the registrant’s intention with the domain was, as he also registered ZionProxy.com (which was not part of the UDRP).
This was an overreach on the part of Zions Bank. It has won lots of UDRPs in the past, but those were for domains with Zions in them plus a financial term. Here, an innocent person used the dictionary term Zion and attached it to a non-financial term.
Willoughby did not find Zions Bank guilty of reverse domain name hijacking. But he did two things that should be applauded:
1. He considered reverse domain name hijacking even though the respondent didn’t ask for it. Yes, he declined to find it, but by considering it he has tacitly pointed out that Zions should be more careful before filing future cases. He also gets points for noting that panelists should consider RDNH even when it is not asked for.
2. He called out Zions Bank for what was likely boilerplate but invalid language in its complaint, and suggests that the bank should have tried to get more information before filing the complaint:
The Complainant asserts without any supporting evidence: “The Respondent is clearly trying to exploit the goodwill of Complainant and its trademarks by diverting customers of Complainant from Complainant’s website to Respondent’s website for commercial gain or malicious purposes by creating a likelihood of confusion with Complainants trademarks”. While the Panel has some sympathy with the Complainant in that it had no information of any kind on the Respondent, the use of the word “clearly” in the above quote is the Panel’s view over the top. The Complainant might have been in a better position to make such a claim if it had attempted to approach the Respondent in advance by way of a pre-Complaint communication and then received an unhelpful response.