Saudi Aramco Tries To Take Dead Man’s Domain Name

Saudi Aramco tries to take dead man’s domain name

Company tries to use UDRP to take domain registered in 1997 by now-deceased man.

Saudi Aramco logo

One of the world’s most valuable companies just plumbed new depths in cybersquatting disputes.

Saudi Aramco, the $133 billion Saudi Arabian oil company, filed trademarks for a new brand called Orizon last year. Naturally, the company would like the domain Orizon.com.

But there’s a problem.

Orizon.com was registered in 1997 by Orizon Multimedia Inc. The company used the domain for its business but then shut down. Apparently, the owner of the business passed away last year.

So Saudi Aramco decided to file a cybersquatting complaint under the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP) to try to get the domain.

Here’s the thing: in order to win a UDRP case, a trademark holder must show that the domain was registered in bad faith when it was initially registered.

Clearly, the registrant did not register the domain in bad faith since he used it for his legitimate business. Oh, and he registered it more than two decades before Saudi Aramco decided to adopt it as a brand, so it wasn’t registered to target Saudi Aramco.

World Intellectual Property Organization panelist Nick Gardner correctly ruled that this isn’t a case of cybersquatting. He considered if it was reverse domain name hijacking but, ultimately, gave Saudi Aramco a pass. One of his reasons: since the domain owner is dead, he wasn’t burdened by Saudi Aramco’s filing.

Fish & Richardson P.C. represented Saudi Aramco.

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Author: Andrew Allemann

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