WIPO panelist drops the ball in RDNH decision.
A single member World Intellectual Property Organization panel has denied a UDRP complaint against the domain name alessandro.com, but failed to find the complainant guilty of reverse domain name hijacking.
Frankly, I’m stunned that panelist Pablo A. Palazzi did not find beauty products company Alessandro International GmbH to have brought the case in bad faith, and his rationale contradicts the facts of the case.
Alessandro International GmbH filed the complaint against Alessandro Gualandi of New York. Yes, the respondent’s name is Alessandro, and he registered his first name as a domain name.
The arguments made by the complainant are stunning:
…the Respondent is neither not commonly known by the disputed domain name nor is Respondent making a legitimate non commercial or fair use of the disputed domain name, without intent for commercial gain.
This is demonstrably false. Historical whois records show that, at the time of the UDRP filing and well before, the whois record clearly showed that the owner of the domain name was named Alessandro. Even worse, the complainant stated that it had a meeting with the respondent at a bar to discuss the domain name. Clearly, the complainant knew that the respondent’s name was Alessandro.
…Complainant states that Respondent has not used the disputed domain name since it was registered in 1998…
Again, demonstrably false as proven by the panelist himself when using Archive.org.
Complainant states that the fact that Respondent given name is Alessandro does not constitute a right or legitimate interest in respect of the disputed domain name. Complainant states that the name Alessandro is a very popular and widespread Italian name. In that sense Complainant mention statistics of the use of the name Alessandro in Italy. Due to the high number of people named Alessandro it has to be concluded that Respondent is not commonly known by the name Alessandro because hundred of thousands of individuals have the same name as well. Therefore Respondent cannot claim any right or legitimate interest in respect of the disputed domain name because the name is not associated with Respondent in particular.
Can someone explain the logic in “Respondent is not commonly known by the name Alessandro because hundreds of thousands of individuals have the same name as well.” So because lots of people are named Andrew, that means I’m not commonly known as Andrew?
To prove rights or legitimate interests in a domain name, the domain name owner doesn’t have to prove that he’s the only person with a legitimate interest in a domain name. Just that he has a legitimate interest
Complainant also argues that the trademark right of a company should prevail over the fact that a non famous individual happens to have the same name as the company and its trademarks.
Complainant states that consumers are used to see a strong international brand as being displayed in a URL as the second level domain name, whereas natural persons usually do not only use their given name as a second level domain name but their given name plus their surname, or only their surname.
I think I just threw up a bit in my mouth.
Panelist Pablo A. Palazzi made a procedural request for the respondent to send in proof of his name. He sent in a copy of his passport and drivers license showing his name.
Amazingly, when Palazzi ruled on reverse domain name hijacking, he said that “there was not on the record evidence of the name of Respondent until the Panel Order No. 1 was fulfilled.”
I’m not sure if Palazzi meant there was no evidence on the UDRP record until the copy of the identification was sent in, but clearly the complainant knew. The whois record clearly states the domain name is owned by a guy name Alessandro. The complainant met Alessandro in a bar to try to buy the domain name. What, did Alessandro call himself deep throat when they met at the bar?
Alessandro registered the domain name in 1998. Many years later, a company by the name of Alessandro approached him about acquiring the domain name. When that failed, it filed a UDRP. This looks to me like a classic “Plan B” RDNH.
Palazzi got the main decision right, but I’m baffled by his failure to admonish Alessandro International GmbH and its attorneys Betten & Resch for filing the case in the first place. The complaint clearly tries to twist much of the language and purpose of UDRP.