Panel determines the domain wasn’t registered in bad faith given trademark date.
The Chief Information Security Officer of mining and petroleum giant BHP has lost an attempt to take down a criticism site by using the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP).
Thomas Leen filed the dispute against the domain name Thomas-Leen.com. The site shows a picture of Leen with the word “Bully” on it and includes several derogatory comments about him. The site shows up at the top of Google search results for his name.
After the site was created, Leen registered an Andorran trademark for his name. While the panel agreed that the domain was confusingly similar to Leen’s mark, it found that the domain wasn’t registered in bad faith because it predated Leen’s trademark.
Leen could have argued common law rights predating the domain’s registration. This would be difficult because UDRP panels are cautious about accepting common law rights on personal names, especially when the person isn’t a major celebrity. Still, arguing common law rights would have given him a better chance at winning than using rights registered after the domain was registered.
The panel also noted that questions about whether criticism is accurate or defamatory fall outside the scope of the policy.
Leen might do better to create sites and social profiles that rise higher in the search results, such as a personal site and LinkedIn profile.
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Author: Andrew Allemann