UDRP makes it hard for entrepreneur to start his consulting business.
UDRP mostly gets it right.
It sometimes gets it wrong.
Other times it gets it absolutely, disgracefully wrong.
Consider the case of a Minnesota man who wants to set up a consulting firm. He comes up with the reasonable name Fresh Look Consulting, LLC. So he files for his company name with the state on October 3 of this year. Then he registers the domain name FreshLookConsultingLLC.net on October 7.
On October 31 he files a trademark application for for “FRESH LOOKâ€ in international class 35, under the description “Providing advisory and consulting services in the fields of strategic assessment, executive mentoring, business opportunity, acquisition, divestiture and turnarounds, and brand remarketing and repositioning, on behalf of individuals and businesses, including for-profit and non-profit entities.â€
Next thing you know Novartis AG, maker of the Fresh Look contact lenses, files a UDRP for the domain name.
Any reasonable panelist would look at these facts and understand the domain name registrant wasn’t trying to cybersquat.
First, Fresh Look is a perfectly reasonable name for a consulting company. By adding “consulting” to the domain name it’s clear it has absolutely nothing to do with contact lenses.
Then consider that the person went through the hassle and expense of filing his LLC papers and for a trademark, clearly stating the purpose of his business.
Yet panelist HÃ©ctor A. Manoff somehow found that the owner had no rights or legitimate interests in the domain and it was registered in bad faith.
The only “proof” was that GoDaddy’s site holder page had ads for contact lenses.
C’mon. The guy registered the domain a couple months ago and is clearly setting up his business. His registrar puts a “coming soon” page up with some contact lens ads and it’s evidence of bad faith?
I’m literally dumbfounded by Manoff’s explanation of inconsistency in the respondent’s case:
While Respondent claims to be known by the disputed domain name since it is their company name, this Panel finds it difficult to be true since the company was incorporated only three days before the registration of the domain name. And Respondent’s trademark application was filed almost after one month from the domain name registration. Apart from that evidence, Respondent does not provide further elements that prove it is known by the disputed domain name.
Isn’t it clear he was in the process of setting up his business?
UDRP was designed to be an easy way to settle clear cut cases of cybersquatting. This wasn’t clear cut. It wasn’t even a case of cybersquatting.
This is a case of a UDRP panelist taking a domain name away from someone trying to start a legitimate business.
I hope that Novartis lets the owner keep the domain. I suspect the domain was picked up somewhat automatically for the UDRP. Novartis is protecting its Fresh Look brand — it just won a case for FreshLook.com. I get that. But now that it knows the whole story, and it’s clear this domain won’t be used in any way that can harm the company, I truly hope they let it go.