Jack Abramoff fails in arbitration over domain name.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) can keep the domain name JackAbramoff.com, a National Arbitration Forum panel has ruled.
Former lobbyist Jack Abramoff filed the complaint arguing that the DCCC was using the domain name to disrupt his business, which includes speaking engagements and selling books. The democrats forward the domain name to a page on its web site blasting Abramoff and his connection to republicans.
The National Arbitration Panel ruled against Jack Abramoff.
1. He did not show he had trademark rights in the name.
Complainant has provided no evidence of actual use of JACK ABRAMOFF as a trademark in connection with particular goods or services prior to the time Respondent registered the disputed domain name. Complainant claims to be “famous,” yet the record reflects he is, in fact, “infamous”. In any event, “fame” of an individual name does not equal trademark rights in and to that name. Complainant would have to prove secondary meaning therein to establish trademark rights. Complainant has not done so.
2. the DCCC has rights or legitimate interests in the domain name.
Respondent argues that it uses the domain name exclusively in connection with political speech. Respondent asserts that it has concerns with Complainant’s attempt to re-characterize himself as being reformed and that corruption needs not to be forgotten. Respondent asserts that it therefore uses the domain name to display information regarding Complainant’s association with a political scandal.
3. The domain wasn’t registered and used in bad faith.
Complainant asserts that Respondent’s registration and use of the domain name is disruptive to Complainant’s business. On the other hand, Respondent argues that it is not now nor previously was a competitor of Complainant. Respondent argues that, at the time of the domain name registration by Respondent, any public awareness of Complainant or connected to the JACK ABRAMOFF mark was only in connection with political corruption and felony charges. Therefore, Respondent argues that it could not have registered the domain name with the intent to disrupt Complainant because Complainant was not engaged in any commerce at that time. Respondent further asserts that it is currently not a competitor of Complainant’s because the books that are sold on the domain name website do not generate revenue for Respondent and are not related in substance to Complainant.
Therefore, the Panel finds that Respondent did not register and is not using the domain name in bad faith…
UDRP junkies will note that the panel overlooked the fact that the democrats raise money on the web site by selling books and collecting donations. Previous panels have ruled that any sort of money making activity can be proof of bad faith.