Activist UDRP panelist at it again in 7s.com case.
If you ever need to point a finger at UDRP panelists that are trying to pervert the entire system, one of those should be Andrew Christie.
I awarded Christie a “Domain Dunce” award in 2009 for his attempts to change the plain language and thousands of cases of precedent of UDRP. He did it by circularly referencing his own cases.
Now Christie is at it again in the case of 7s.com.
The owner of the domain name had a pretty solid defense against the complaint by 7(S) Personal GmbH.
– 7s.com didn’t file trademarks until 2000 and provided no evidence that it had common law trademark rights to ‘7s’ predating that. But 7s.com’s owner registered the domain name in 1998, two years before that.
– In addition to registering 7s.com, the respondent registered a number of other short domains that included numbers in the same year: 8r.com, j4.com, 788.com, 889.com, 988.com, e88.com, e99.com. This suggests that he was registering lots of short domains like this and wasn’t targeting the German company. (After all, there’s no evidence in the case that the German company even existed in 1998!)
– The domain owner had forwarded the domain to one of his sites (geometry.net) for several years after registering it.
– It’s a generic domain name
The majority of the panel found that the domain owner had rights or legitimate interests in the domain name.
But not Andrew Christie. He wrote a dissent:
…Where a domain name is used simply to point to a website, I believe there needs to be some semantic relationship between the domain name and the website for that use to be bona fide. To hold otherwise would mean that pointing a domain name to any website – including to a website completely unrelated, in a semantic sense, to the domain name – will trigger a right or legitimate interest in the domain name. In my view, that type of use is not sufficient to give rise to a right or legitimate interest in a domain name. It is not a bona fide use; rather it is an arbitrary use…
But another panelist gave a great rebuttal to Christie. David E. Sorkin wrote:
I concur in the majority’s decision. I agree with the view expressed in the dissenting opinion that an arbitrary use of a domain name normally does not create rights or legitimate interests. In this case, however, we are presented with such use of the disputed domain name over a long period of time, together with the paucity of evidence that the use was pretextual or otherwise illegitimate. (The Respondent need not show that it has developed trademark rights in the domain name, but merely that the Complainant has failed to prove that the Respondent has developed any sort of rights or legitimate interests in the name). Furthermore, there is no indication whatsoever that the Respondent’s selection of the domain name was motivated in any way by or targeted at the Complainant or its mark. I therefore conclude that the Complainant has failed to meet its burden of proving the requirements set forth in paragraph 4(b) of the Policy.