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You Make the Call: JosephSchlessinger.com

Yale professor wins domain name case. Was it the right decision?

I came across an interesting WIPO domain dispute today for JosephSchlessinger.com. The case was brought by Joseph Schlessinger, a professor at Yale.

The case initially caught my eye because, even before reading it, it was clearly brought by a person claiming common law rights to his name as a trademark, yet I had not heard of the person. It gets more interesting when you go to the web site, which criticizes the professor for both allegedly stealing research and for sexual harassment.

I can certainly see why Schlessinger wanted this web site taken down, but is UDRP the correct mechanism to do it?

First, I’m perplexed at how panelists decide that a person has achieved significant enough popularity to have trademark rights to their name. The random selection of a panelist seems to be more important than how well known the person actually is.

Second, it’s fairly clear that the web site at the domain is a gripe site. I can’t see anyone being fooled into thinking that Schlessinger posted defamatory information about himself.

Perhaps if the domain name owner had revealed who he (or she) was and why he had a beef with Schlessinger he would have been able to win the case. But isn’t that the point? Shouldn’t people have the ability to anonymously criticize? If any of the statements on the web site are factually incorrect, the courts are the correct venue to challenge the web site.

You can read the decision here. What do you think?

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  1. Vikz

    Don’t suppose WIPO had a choice really based on the professor using the common law rights to his name as a trademark, whatever his motives were.

  2. TK

    None of us know the full story, what really went on. It’s so easy to say WIPO is corrupt, isn’t it?

  3. TK

    It would be easy for the courts to help if there was a face behind the website, but unfortunately, there isn’t.

  4. freedom of speech?

    Verdict Quote:
    “The website contains false, inflammatory statements that impugn the Complainant’s character and reputation.”

    Uh…exactly which part of the Joseph Schlessinger website is false??? According to the references, Joseph Schlessinger WAS accused sexual harassment according to a sworn statement and he DID attempt to steal intellectual property and he DID lose the lawsuit.

    It is negative, but also accurate! IE, its NOT “defamation of character” or slander if its true!!!

    Justice has NOT been served with WIPO’s transfer here…

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