AOL’s lawyers didn’t provide enough evidence of common law rights.
AOL owns the web site Patch.com, yet it has failed to obtain the typo wwwPatch.com through a National Arbitration Forum proceeding.
How is this possible? It seems that AOL’s lawyers may have taken this case for granted and not supplied enough evidence.
The panel found that wwwPatch.com is confusingly similar to AOL’s PATCH mark, and that the respondent doesn’t have any rights or legitimate interests in the domain name.
Proving registration and use in bad faith is where AOL tripped up. AOL got the Patch.com domain name on February 4, 2009. The typo was registered 8 days later. After the typo was registered AOL filed for trademarks. So the panelist looked to any sort of common law rights before wwwPatch.com was registered on February 12:
…Complainant has failed to provide sufficient evidence of common law rights in the PATCH.COM that would effectively predate Respondent’s registration of the wwwpatch.com domain name. Therefore, the Panel concludes that Respondent could not have registered the disputed domain name with the requisite bad faith under Policy.
I must say I’m somewhat surprised by this decision. Even if AOL didn’t provide the necessary information, 9 out of 10 panelists would have transferred the domain.