Panelist orders generic domain be transferred to local startup accelerator.
A National Arbitration Forum has ordered the transfer of the domain name Galvanize.com in a highly questionable decision.
At every turn in deciding the case, NAF panelist Dr. Reinhard Schanda gave the benefit of the doubt to complainant Galvanize LLC. That said, the respondent could have put up a better case.
Respondent Brett Blair / ChristianGlobe Network bought the domain name in an expired domain auction at NameJet in September 2011 for $2,331. He did not mention this purchase price and the circumstances in the response, apparently.
The complainant filed a trademark for “Galvanize” in May 2012 claiming a first use in November 2011.
That alone should have been enough to show that the respondent didn’t register and use the domain in bad faith.
Apparently Galvanize LLC filed an affidavit claiming that it had actually used the brand for its startup accelerators businesses prior to this first claim date. Although it provided more evidence of use of the brand, the panelist didn’t state that this evidence predated the respondent’s domain purchase.
It’s highly unlikely that Galvanize had taken on a secondary meaning and was well known, especially where the respondent lives (Florida) at the time he registered the domain. It appears the complainant’s Galvanize.it domain was just registered in June 2011.
I’d bet this domain was registered as an investment for its generic meaning.
Based on my reading of the response, the respondent focused on a plan for legitimate use rather than stating that this was a purchase of a generic domain, which is legitimate.
In fact, the panel wrote:
In the Panel’s opinion the most realistic interpretation of the actions of the Respondent is that he registered the Domain Name in the hope that he might be able to sell it at a significant profit to the Complainant or alternatively to someone who could use the Domain Name to his commercial advantage by engaging in the activity contemplated by paragraph 4(b)(iv) of the Policy.
It’s highly unlikely that he registered it with the complainant in mind. He probably had know idea the complainant existed, unless he happened to traveled forward in time.
The complainant also says it corresponded with a broker from DomainHoldings that said the domain was for sale for $100,000. The respondent does not recall ever engaging with DomainHoldings.
This is not a clear cut case of cybersquatting. This was a bad decision.