CTV goes after valuable generic domain name through UDRP and loses.
Murat Yikilmaz has successfully defended an attempt by Canadian broadcasting company CTV to take away his three character domain name. CTV currently uses CTV.ca as its domain name.
In a 2-1 decision at National Arbitration Forum, the panel found that CTV doesn’t have worldwide exclusive rights to the term “CTV”, and that Yikilmaz’s purchase of the domain to attract traffic was a legitimate use.
Yikilmaz, a resident of Turkey, claimed to be unaware of the TV broadcaster.
…[Yikilmaz] has no connection with Canada or exposure to programming of the Complainant’s television network and that he had no awareness whatsoever of Complainant or its CTV mark until this proceeding was initiated. Respondent appears to be in the domain name warehousing business and “specializesâ€ in three letter domains. In that connection, he purchased
in February of 2007 for a “substantial amountâ€ of money.
The majority of the panel agreed with Yikilmaz that CTV didn’t enjoy worldwide rights to the three letters “CTV”:
The three letters which constitute the essence of the
domain name are generic initials and in common use by many parties to identify many goods and services. Accordingly, Complainant does not have a monopoly on these terms on the Internet. The fact that Complainant’s use of CTV to identify its goods and services is apparently exclusive to the North American continent strengthens Respondent’s argument. For example, Respondent provided evidence that “ctvâ€ is a common abbreviation worldwide for numerous phrases, including “color television,â€ “consolidated tax voucher,â€ and “cell tolerance variation.â€
The panel ruled that use of this domain name was legitimate as it didn’t include links related to the broadcast company:
Respondent’s registration of a three-letter disputed domain name with the goal of attracting Internet traffic is a legitimate business interest, especially in this case where none of the advertisements listed on the corresponding website related to Complainant’s television operations.
One panelist, Hon. Roger P. Kerans (Ret.), dissented, saying “I fail to see why a resident of country A can interfere with an established trademark in country B even if he is free to use it in country A.”
I think Kerans misses the point here. Even if Yikilmaz lived in North America and was familiar with CTV, CTV does not enjoy full rights to the three letters. If Yikilmaz uses the domain name for a purpose that doesn’t have anything to do with the Canadian broadcaster, he should be free to do so. (Incidentally, I live in the the United States and the only Canadian broadcaster I’m familiar with is CBC.)
For more on protecting three character domain names from inevitable attacks, see “How to Protect Your 3 Character Domain Names“.