Food delivery service guilty of abusing proceedings.
When Tarheel Take-Out, LLC filed a UDRP against the domain name Takeout.com, it was a pretty good bet that it would be found guilty of reverse domain name hijacking.
A three member World Intellectual Property Organization panel has just turned in its decision and has indeed determined that Tarheel Take-Out is guilty of abusing the UDRP process.
The panel ruled that the domain name was not similar to a mark in which the complainant has rights. The complainant left out a bunch of key details in its complaint. It originally tried to buy the domain but was told it would take a seven figure offer.
Apparently Tarheel Take-Out tried to withdraw the case, but the panel still found that the complainant was guilty of reverse domain name hijacking:
In this case, the only alleged rights in TAKEOUT.COM that could have arisen prior to Respondent’s registration of the disputed domain name stem from Complainant’s use of TARHEEL TAKE-OUT EXPRESS at the domain name tarheeltakeout.com for services rendered in North Carolina. In its trademark application, filed roughly six years after Respondent registered the generic or commonly descriptive term “takeout” as a domain name, Complainant alleges that its first use of TAKEOUT.COM occurred in 2010. Given the record, it strains credulity to believe that Complainant did not know or should not have known that it had no trademark rights in TAKEOUT.COM that could serve as the basis for this Complaint. It is no excuse that Complainant may not be familiar with clear Policy precedent, the Policy, or the Rules.
For the foregoing reasons, the Panel makes a finding of Reverse Domain Name Hijacking.
While the Panel recognizes that Complainant attempted to withdraw its Complaint after learning that the Respondent acquired the disputed domain name for a legitimate use, the Panel does not believe that the Respondent should in the circumstances have been forced to present such evidence in light of Complainant’s previously disclosed lack of rights in “takeout.com” in combination with the commonly descriptive nature of that term. For Complainant to have brought these meritless UDRP proceedings in the first place is such circumstances and to have put the Respondent to the not insignificant cost of having to mount a defense to a baseless claim should be discouraged.