Swiss company goes after distributor for registering domain name.
A World Intellectual Property Organization panelist has called a company’s conduct “very close to reverse domain name hijacking” in a dispute with a distributor.
Vorwerk International AG filed a UDRP against Elektrik Serbaguna, which has (or at least had) a distribution agreement to sell the Complainant’s Thermomix kitchen tool in Indonesia.
The Respondent registered the domain in dispute, thermomixindonesia.com, as part of that distributorship. It says that the Complainant asked it to select a domain to use, but the Respondent didn’t provide a copy of that agreement. The Complainant didn’t dispute it, though. And the Respondent showed that the Complainant had emailed it at @thermomixindonesia.com numerous times in 2014.
The Respondent ran into issues importing the product to Indonesia but continues to offer its stock for sale at the domain name.
Panelist John Swinson wrote that while the Complainant didn’t directly state it, it suggests that the Respondent is selling counterfeit products. It’s actually selling genuine products acquired as part of the distribution agreement.
Swinson found that Vorwerk failed to show the Respondent lacked rights or legitimate interests in the domain and failed to show it was registered in bad faith. He wrote:
The Panel finds that on the evidence before it, the Respondent was selling genuine THERMOMIX products supplied to the Respondent directly by the Complainant. The Panel cannot see how selling the Complainant’s genuine products tarnishes the Complainant’s good name…
… The Complainant’s conduct is very close to reverse domain name hijacking.