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Is “Rip-Off Report” the Same as “Report a Rip Off”? One UDRP Panelist Thinks So.

The never ending stretch of confusing similarity.

National Arbitration Forum panelist Jonas Gulliksson has determined that the “Report a rip off” is confusingly similar to “Rip-Off Report”, and has ordered ReportaRipoff.net transferred to the owner of RipoffReport.com.

Now, if what the complainant in this case states is true, it’s clear that the registrant of ReportaRipoff.net crossed some bounds that were sure to land him in hot water. But I have a hard time getting past the confusing similarity of these two terms.

In explaining how these two terms are similar, Gulliksson writes:

The registered trademark of the Complainant is incorporated in its entirety in the disputed domain name. The Panel concludes that the addition or, as in this case, the omission of hyphens is irrelevant under the Policy 4(a)(i). Further, the inclusion of the letter “a” and the reverse order of the words are not sufficient to distinguish the disputed domain name from the Complainant’s trademark.

That’s a lot of exceptions, but let’s run with it, especially if Gullikson can give some good examples from previous cases. But that’s where I get confused.

His first example is Easyjet Airline Co. Ltd. v. Harding, where a panel found that easy-jet.net was confusingly similar to EASYJET. OK, so the same words in the same order with an added hyphen are confusingly similar. But what about backwards?

Example two is Classic Metal Roofs, LLC v. Interlock Indus., Ltd., which concluded that classicmetalroofing.com was confusingly similar to “Classic Metal Roofs” because changing the final term of the mark from “roofs” to “roofing” was a minor alteration.

I don’t see what the latter case has to do with the present one in which a word is added and the two key terms flipped.

I guess I don’t know where this stops. Perhaps I’ll file a UDRP against DNJournal. After all, it’s the same thing as Domain Name Wire except it abbreviates “Domain Name” and uses Journal instead of Wire, which could be considered similar.

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  1. UDRPtalk says

    The descriptiveness of the phrase “Report a rip-off” should trump all in favor of the respondent.

    If the respondent doesn’t challenge this in court, then I think the respondent should at least use his own site to “Report a rip-off” against the Complainant and Arbitrator for losing this domain.

  2. Troy says

    From what I have heard RipOffReport.com is an extremely scummy company. They accept any “report” about any company without investigation then contact the company that is being complained about and offer to remove the negative report or at least allow them to comment on the reasoning for massive fees. You don’t get much scummier than that.

  3. mansour says

    @ Andrew “I’ll file a UDRP against DNJournal”
    I think you should. Maybe you will get lucky and get Jonas Gulliksson as an arbitrator. I can see the smile on Ron Jackson’s face disappear in a second. After reading your article and since I own the domain name http://www.wipo.tv, I decided to forward it to http://www.sex.com to reduce the similarity confusion. I don’t believe that Gibson will still think so.

  4. Anon says

    NAF and the other pseudo-legal organizations are made up primarily of lawyers and judges accepting backhanders. The sooner the Arbitration Fairness Act is brought into law the better, then the next step is the class action against the NAF and civil actions against the criminals behind it.

  5. Oliver says

    @ Troy —

    I can see you’ve been drinking the anti-Ripoff Report Kool-Aid. As such, you probably don’t care much about the truth, but consider this:

    You criticize ROR because “They accept any “report” about any company without investigation … .” Are you kidding? Name ONE website that allows consumer reviews that also independently investigates every review made by 3rd parties. Can’t think of one? Me neither…

    Are you saying that Amazon.com is “scummy” because Amazon allows user reviews but doesn’t actually investigate EVERY (or any) review posted on the site? How about eBay? Newegg? How about THIS SITE? All scummy? Or are you just confused…?

    As for this comment: “then [ROR will] contact the company that is being complained about and offer to remove the negative report or at least allow them to comment on the reasoning for massive fees.” How do you know that? Got any proof to back that up? I have seen MANY lawsuits where people have claimed this, and every single time ROR has proven the plaintiff was LYING. Funny how the real liars always accuse everyone else of being dishonest.

    Ripoff Report doesn’t remove reports for money, and anyone is allowed to respond to reports for FREE. Don’t believe me? Try it!

  6. UDRPtalk says

    It is clear that “Rip-off Report” is a thing, and “Report a rip-off” is an action.

    They are not equivalent in meaning, and therefore, the arbitrator got it wrong.

  7. Oliver says

    @ UDRPtalk —

    You might be right, the arbitrator may be screwed up, but did you see the exhibits from this case showing what really happened? Copies are here:

    http://www.scribd.com/doc/47321159/Xcentric-Ventures-LLC-v-Report-a-Rip-Off-Inc-Exhibits

    And the Complaint is here:

    http://www.scribd.com/doc/47321061/COMPLAINT-Xcentric-Ventures-LLC-v-Report-a-Rip-Off-Inc

    Even if the arbitrator incorrectly found this was cybersquatting, what’s the remedy? The respondent can “appeal” by filing a lawsuit in court asking a judge to review the case and to determine that the respondent wasn’t doing anything illegal.

    Looking at the Complaint and the exhibits, the respondent clearly copied the complainant’s entire website, making only small changes to some of the text, but keeping other text which misrepresented their identity — the respondent was falsely pretending to be the original site using the site’s copyrighted content and registered trademarks.

    Think a judge would say that’s OK?

  8. Oliver says

    @ Andrew Allemann — I agree with you 100%; the scope of a UDRP proceeding is very limited, and by that standard, you could argue a different outcome should have occurred here.

    At the same time, UDRP proceedings are supposed to turn on whether or not the respondent has legitimate rights to their domain name and whether or not they’re using the name in bad faith.

    Using a name like this to run a hoax/imposter site is NOT a legitimate use and there are literally hundreds of cases supporting the conclusion that this type of use is bad faith per se.

    With that in mind, while the respondent may also be liable for copyright and trademark infringement, it seems the outcome of the UDRP proceeding was correct.

    • Andrew Allemann says

      @ Oliver – a UDRP is supposed to turn on three things. You mentioned two, but the first one is whether or not the domain name is confusingly similar to a mark in which the complainant has rights.

      Again, not trying to defend the respondent here.

      BTW, are you the lawyer or the complainant?

  9. UDRPtalk says

    @Oliver:

    It was the wrong decision even by court standards.

    The respondent could be liable for copyright infringement, but that shouldn’t necessarily result in an order to transfer the site name to ROR given that the respondent has a generic/descriptive right to the phrase “Report a rip-off” which cannot be considered equivalent to “Rip-Off Report”.

    By UDRP standards, the respondent should have been considered to have rights in the site name due to it’s generic/descriptive quality within the name itself. That fact alone would be enough for the Respondent to prevail. But since the arbitrator illogically equates it with “Rip-Off Report”, it turned out to be the wrong decision.

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