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Red Hat tries to reverse domain name hijack a Fedora domain

National Arbitration Forum finds that Red Hat filed a cybersquatting claim to harass domain name registrant.

Red Hat logo features a red hat with the words red hat in black letters

Red Hat, a software company that’s a subsidiary of IBM, has been found guilty of attempting reverse domain name hijacking.

The company filed a cybersquatting complaint under the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP) against WeMakeFedora.org.

Fedora is open source software sponsored primarily by Red Hat but made by a community. Red Hat has a registered trademark for Fedora.

Software Freedom Institute SA registered WeMakeFedora.org to create a blog (and blog aggregator) about Fedora. According to the decision, it was created after Red Hat’s official Fedora news site censored some content contributions. WeMakeFedora.org includes some of those censored posts.

WeMakeFedora.org includes a prominent disclaimer and links to the official Fedora download site.

Crucially, the UDRP decision notes that Red Hat consented in an email exchange to the use of the domain just days after it was registered, so long as Software Freedom Institute SA complied with Red Hat’s trademark guidelines. But in its UDRP filing, it claimed that it did not authorize the use of the domain.

This was enough for National Arbitration Forum panelist Alan Limbury to find Rights or Legitimate interests in the domain and reverse domain name hijacking. He wrote:

Despite Complainant having consented, on the day after Respondent registered the domain name, to Respondent’s use of the domain name for a website, so long as Respondent complied with Complainant’s trademark guidelines, the Complaint does not contain contend that Respondent has failed to comply with those guidelines. Instead, the Complaint asserts that Complainant has not consented to Respondent’s use of the domain name and that Respondent’s adoption of a name that is virtually identical to Complaint’s registered trademark to offer or to discuss software and software design and development services does not constitute any right or legitimate interest in the domain name on the part of Respondent.

In light of these circumstances the Panel finds that Complainant brought this proceeding despite having clear knowledge of Respondent’s rights or legitimate interests in the domain name and that the proceeding was brought primarily to harass the domain-name holder.

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