Google fails to win arbitration case over high traffic typo.
A National Arbitration Forum panelist has ruled that the owner of Oogle.com can keep his domain name despite Google’s claims that the registration of the domain name amounts to cybersquatting.
Google was upset that the domain name forwarded to porn and scammy survey sites.
The first issue of contention between the parties was when the current owner registered the domain name. Google claimed it was 2004; the registrant said 1999. As it turns out, Christopher Neuman registered the domain in 1999 but changed the whois record to his new company name in 2004. (The oldest record to verify this dates to 2002.)
1999 was obviously a lot closer to Google’s birth than 2004, although Google was still known at the time.
That leads to the bigger issue: why Neuman registered the domain name in the first place. Was it to trade on Google’s growing brand?
In a sworn declaration, Neuman said that he registered the domain name because of his association with a programmer who went by the handle “oogle”.
Now, the truth is that the panelist didn’t really buy that. But he also realized there are limits to the UDRP:
Despite the Panel’s extreme suspicions about this explanation, the Policy and the Rules do not provide the Panel with any authority to ascertain the Respondent’s credibility given the limitations on filings, the absence of discovery and the procedural efficiencies that are a part of (although admittedly occasionally detrimental to) this process.
Panelist Douglas Isenberg even suggested that Google might be successful in a legal proceeding that “allows for more evidentiary development”.
So the end result (pdf) is Neuman can keep the domain for now. But don’t be surprised if Google goes after the domain name through a different means.
Neuman’s company was represented by domain name attorney Zac Muscovitch. This is the third time Muscovitch has beaten Google. Previous victories were over Groovle.com and Goggle.com.