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Mail-order wife site silences critic with UDRP

Kevin Murphy, May 18, 2010, Domain Policy

A dating service has failed in a second attempt to hijack a domain name on the basis that the corresponding web site uses its “hot Russian brides” trademark in its directory structure.

Romantic Tours, which runs hotrussianbrides.com, filed a UDRP claim against agencyscams.com, claiming its URL agencyscams.com/why/hotrussianbrides infringed its trademark.

It lost the case, with the National Arbitration Forum arbitrator quite reasonably noting that “proceedings under the UDRP may be applied only to domain names”.

As noted over at Domain Name Wire, Romantic Tours tried the same ballsy tactic with jimslists.com, and was similarly unsuccessful.

Jimslists.com and and agencyscams.com are run by the same person. They’re basically gripe sites naming and shaming allegedly dodgy dating agencies and the allegedly dodgy women who use them.

While Romantic Tours may have lost its UDRP case, it appears to have got what it wanted anyway.

The offending URLs are no longer active on either site, and detailed references to hotrussianbrides.com appear to have been yanked, resulting in 404s.

Cheaters’ dating site wins 101 typo domains

Kevin Murphy, May 17, 2010, Domain Policy

You’d think a web site that enables married people to cheat on their partners would have difficulty taking the moral high ground on any issue. Apparently not.

AshleyMadison.com, which offers an “Affairs Guaranteed” promise, has just won 101 typo domain names under a mass UDRP claim against a single respondent.

The disputed domains included everything from zashleymadison.com to aeshleymadison.com. Two were PPC pages, the remainder apparently remained unused.

Judging from the National Arbitration Forum decision, this was an open-and-shut case of typosquatting.

The registrant was hiding behind a Bahamas-based privacy service that declined to close his true identity.

He did not respond to the UDRP filing.

Registrars responsible for proxy cybersquatters

Domain name registrars can be liable when their customers break the law, if those customers use a privacy service, according to new ICANN guidance.

The ICANN advisory clarifies the most recent Registrar Accreditation Agreement, and seems primarily pertinent to UDRP cases where the registrar refuses to cooperate with the arbitrator’s request for proper Whois records.

The advisory says:

a Registered Name Holder licensing the use of a domain is liable for harm caused by the wrongful use of the domain unless the Registered Name Holder promptly identifies the licensee to a party providing the Registered Name Holder with reasonable evidence of actionable harm

In other words, if a domain gets hit with a UDRP claim or trademark infringement lawsuit, as far as the RAA is concerned the proxy service is the legal registrant unless the registrar quickly hands over its customer’s details.

Law enforcement and intellectual property interests have been complaining about registrars refusing to do so for years, most recently in comments on ICANN’s Whois accuracy study.

ICANN offers a definition of the word “promptly” as “within five business days” and “reasonable evidence” as trademark ownership and evidence of infringement.

I don’t think this ICANN guidance will have much of an impact on privacy services offered by the big registrars, which generally seem quite happy to hand over customer identities on demand.

Instead, this looks like it could be the start of a broader ICANN crackdown on certain non-US registrars offering “bulletproof” registrations to cybersquatters and other ne’er-do-wells.

I wouldn’t be surprised to find the number of ICANN de-accreditations citing refusal to cooperate with UDRP claims increasing in future.

The new ICANN document is a draft, and you can comment on it here.

RapidShare chases cybersquatters

Kevin Murphy, April 19, 2010, Domain Policy

RapidShare, the popular German file-hosting site, has filed six cybersquatting claims against people with the word “rapidshare” in their domains.

The UDRP complaints are either a sign that RapidShare is cracking down on pirated content, or an example of balls-out intellectual property chutzpah.

My guess is it’s the latter, for two reasons.

First, a search reveals dozens of popular sites with “rapidshare” in the domain, all serving RapidShare links to copyrighted content, none of which have had UDRP claims filed against them.

Second, each of the six domains RapidShare has filed claims for seem to provide links only to files hosted by competing services such as Hotfile.com or Uploading.com.

RapidShare.com is currently the 35th most-popular site on the internet, more popular than Craigslist, according to Alexa.

A German court ruled two years ago that it had to start deleting pirate content, and it has been playing whack-a-mole with the bootleggers ever since.

Now, it wants the World Intellectual Property Organization to help it protect its trademark. There’s irony for you.

WIPO’s UDRP market share lead narrows

Kevin Murphy, April 13, 2010, Domain Policy

The number of UDRP cases filed with the National Arbitration Forum dipped slightly last year, according to NAF numbers released today.

The organization said it received 1,759 filings last year, compared to 1,770 in 2008. Only 1,333 of the cases were actually heard; the others were dropped or settled.

While that’s a decline for NAF, it’s not quite as steep as the almost 10% drop experienced by rival arbitrator WIPO over the same period.

That said, WIPO is still the primary choice of companies trying to enforce their trademarks in the domain name system, saying last month that it received 2,107 complaints in 2009.

It was also the year of big multi-domain cases for both outfits.

WIPO handed 1,542 domains to Inter-Continental Hotels in a single case, while NAF transferred a relatively modest 1,017 domains to ConsumerInfo.com.

Richard Dawkins files UDRP claim for richarddawkins.com?

Kevin Murphy, April 8, 2010, Domain Policy

Biologist Richard Dawkins, perhaps the planet’s most famous and controversial atheist, has apparently filed a UDRP claim for richarddawkins.com.

The domain, which is down, is registered to a New Jersey address. For the last 10 years, up until at least a week ago, it has sold Dawkins’ books via Amazon’s affiliate program.

The UDRP case was filed with the National Arbitration Forum yesterday. The parties to the case are not yet listed.

Dawkins’ official web site is hosted at richarddawkins.net.

Interestingly, richarddawkins.org is owned by the loopy creationist group Access Research Network. ARN’s page incorrectly points visitors to richarddawkins.com if they want the “official” site.

Dawkins may have a struggle on his hands. Celebrity cybersquatting cases are rarely straightforward, and he may have trouble proving both trademark rights and bad faith.

Better knock on wood, Richard.

Deloitte brand list encourages UDRP claims

Kevin Murphy, March 31, 2010, Domain Policy

The number of UDRP claims a company files will help it qualify for a list of 100 brands that qualify for special protection in new gTLD launches.

Deloitte’s new brand list, expected to be published within a week, was created in response to ICANN’s call for a “globally protected marks list” or GPML, that new gTLDs can use in their sunrise periods.

The number of times a brand has been subject to a UDRP complaint is one of four criteria Deloitte is using for inclusion on the list.

.CO Internet, manager of the newly relaunched .co ccTLD, is already using the list in its sunrise period, referring to it as a “Specially Protected Marks” list.

Deloitte is more cautious, pointing out that while it was designed to fulfil some of the objectives of the ICANN GPML, it is not “the” GPML.

The company says: “the list published by Deloitte specifically intends to provide a fair view on which brands stand out in the safeguarding and enforcement of rights in the context of domain names.”

To make it onto the list, brands are assessed on these criteria: the web site’s ranking, the number of trademarks registered worldwide, whether the brand has participated in a previous sunrise, and how often the brand is cybersquatted.

For this last criterion: “Deloitte has reviewed in particular how many times a certain trademark has been invoked in the context of domain name dispute resolution proceedings, in particular in UDRP.”

Apple secures iPad trademark

Kevin Murphy, March 29, 2010, Gossip

Apple has bought the “iPad” trademark, as it relates to handheld computers, from Fujitsu.

The deal removes any doubt, if there ever was any, that anybody registering domain names containing the string had better unload them quickly or get lawyered up.

According to PatentAuthority.com, the US trademark on iPad was transferred to Apple on March 17. Details of the deal were not disclosed.

Fujitsu filed for the trademark several years ago to cover its line of handheld retail devices.

You may recall that a music producer made headlines last week for attempting to sell the domain ipaddownloads.com and others for $1 million on eBay.

WIPO wants tougher cybersquatting rules on new gTLDs

Kevin Murphy, March 29, 2010, Domain Registries

The World Intellectual Property Organization reckons ICANN should toughen its stance against new gTLD registries that allow cybersquatting.

The “trademark post-delegation dispute resolution procedure” or Trademark PDDRP would let trademark holders try to suspend new TLDs and receive compensation when a registry allows cybersquatting.

WIPO wants the burden of proof on trademark holders relaxed, making it much easier to file complaints.

Currently, the draft process would require complainants to show registries’ “specific bad faith intent” to profit from cybersquatting.

WIPO thinks this should be broadened to include deliberate recklessness.

“In seeking to give meaning to ‘intent,’ the criteria should, without as such imposing or implying any sweeping registry policing duty, also encompass instances of willful blindness,” WIPO wrote.

The comments came in response to ICANN’s public comment period on the process, which closes on Thursday.

Gossip: DNS incest T-shirts, etc…

Kevin Murphy, March 2, 2010, Gossip

Eight domain name stories I would loved to have looked into in more detail today: