File this one under: “Good for UDRP, terrible for internet users.”
Google has managed to lose a cybersquatting complaint over the domain name goggle.com, after a National Arbitration Forum panel declined to consider the case.
Goggle.com, like so many other typos of the world’s most-popular sites, is currently being used to get people to sign up to expensive text messaging services via bogus surveys and competitions.
As Domain Name Wire reported when the complaint was filed, up until recently the site was using a confusingly similar style to Google’s familiar look and feel.
It’s got bad faith written all over it.
But “goggle” it is also a genuine English word.
And it turns out that the previous owner of goggle.com, Knowledge Associates, had entered into a “co-existence relationship” with Google that enabled it to operate the domain without fear of litigation.
The current owner was able to present NAF with documentation showing that this right may have been transferred when he bought the domain.
So the three-person NAF panel decided not to consider the complaint, concluding: “this case is foremost a business and/or contractual dispute between two companies that falls outside the scope of the Policy.”
The panel wrote:
Does the Co-existence Agreement apply to the disputed domain names? Does Respondent stand in the shoes of the original registrant? Does the consent of Complainant extend in time to the current actions of Respondent and in person to the Respondent? Has the Respondent complied with the obligations of the original registrant? Does the “no public statements” provision in the Co-existence Agreement prohibit its disclosure or use as a defense by Respondent?
These are factual and legal issues that go far beyond the scope of the Policy.
These are factual and legal issues that must be resolved before any consideration of confusing similarity, legitimate rights and interest, and bad faith under the Policy can be made.
This means that the current registrant gets to keep the domain, and to keep making cash from what in the vast majority of cases are likely to be clumsy typists.
Google now of course can either decide to pay off the registrant, or take him to court.
The registrant, David Csumrik, was represented by Zak Muscovitch.