National Car Rental loses case over domain name.
Roy Messer, perhaps most famous for selling Vodka.com for $3M, has successfully defended the domain name NationalRentaCar.com through UDRP.
The majority of the panel found that the domain name was confusingly similar to Vanguard Trademark Holdings’ trademark “National Car Rental”, but that the domain name was not registered in bad faith for several reasons. Among them, Messer provided a sworn declaration under penalty of law stating that the domain was not registered with the trademark in mind. The panel also found no evidence to the complainant’s inference that Messer’s company registered the domain with the trademark in mind.
What makes this case particularly interesting is the timeline. Messer registered the domain name in 2000. In 2003 the complainant sent a cease and desist letter to Messer. He responded, and didn’t hear back until 2004 when the complainant sent the exact same letter. He hadn’t heard from them since then until receiving the UDRP. The majority of the panel wrote:
In reaching this decision this Panel accepts that the doctrine of laches does not apply in the UDRP, but in the present case there appears to be some merit in Respondent’s argument that if Complainant were confident in its allegation of bad faith registration of the domain name it would not have delayed so long in bringing this Complaint.
Panelist The Honourable Neil Anthony Brown QC included additional commentary about the long delay, writing:
Standing by and allowing Respondent to use the domain name in the allegedly improper manner during these lengthy periods of time, without any explanation for how the delays came about, leaves Complainant open to the conclusion that it did not believe the claim and also that it had waived its complaint and induced or allowed Respondent to continue with its use of the domain name in that manner.
Attorney Ari Goldberger of ESQwire.com represented Messer.
According to Compete.com, the domain name receives over 4,000 uniques each month.