Bank wins domain name that showed ads for banks.
A single-member World Intellectual Property Organization panel has ordered the domain name CBNT.com be transferred to California Bank & Trust in a cybersquatting dispute.
I disagree with the decision but I also place some blame on the domain name owner.
The bank relied on a trademark for CB&T and the panelist agreed that the domain is confusingly similar to CB&T because “n” is sometimes used to represent “and”.
For its part, domain name owner ABC Productions says it owns 1,850 four-letter domain names as an investment.
While the case wasn’t particularly well defended (based on my reading), the bigger issue seems to be that the domain name is parked and shows ads for banking services.
I disagree with panelist Richard Page’s statement that he found “unlikely that Respondent registered the Disputed Domain Name independently without the intent to take advantage of its significance as a trademark”, but what comes after that is key:
This is particularly evident based on the use put forth by Respondent, namely hosting sponsored links to third-party sites related to banking. Such use is telling of Respondent’s bad faith intent to illegitimately benefit from confusion with Complainant’s CB&T Marks.
I have little doubt the domain was registered because of the inherent value of four-letter domain names. But parking it and letting bank ads be displayed was a mistake.
Parking domain names can be a way to establish rights in the domain for advertising services, but you need to be careful with acronym domain names.