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Standard & Poor’s loses domain name dispute

Financial services company and rating agency can’t have “boycott” domain name, panel rules.

Standard and PoorsStandard & Poor’s has lost a UDRP against the domain name BoycottStandardandPoors.com at World Intellectual Property Organization.

The domain name owner argued that he’s exercising his first amendment rights by owning the “gripe” style domain name.

The panel determined that the domain name could be used as a gripe site and be protected, so it denied Standard & Poor’s request to transfer the domain name.

But the panel’s wording – and the brevity of its decision – is rather interesting.

Consider that the domain owner registered the domain name in 2011, but hasn’t done anything with it. The panel gave the benefit of the doubt on whether or not he did not have rights/legitimate interests in the domain name:

As Respondent conceivably could use the domain name at issue in a manner that would not constitute bad faith registration and use, and as the domain name at issue has yet to be used to resolve to a web site, Complainant has failed to establish that Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the domain name at issue.

The section for Registered and Used In Bad Faith is also peculiar. The three person panel says the complaint was brought prematurely “Since it is conceivable that Respondent could use the domain name in such a way that Respondent did not seek to profit from the good will attached to Complainant’s family of marks.” The panel then notes that S&P can file another UDRP should the domain owner use the domain name in bad faith.

It’s rare that a panel considers what is conceivable, and it’s surprising they didn’t address the lack of progress in turning the domain into a non-commercial website.

I’m not saying the panel got it wrong, it’s just that the full decision is rather interesting. I think some panels would have found differently.

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