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This WIPO panelist forgot something

Vodacom filed dead-on-arrival case and domain owner said it was an abuse of the policy, but…

A World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) panelist has correctly found in favor of the registrant of, but he forgot something: to find the Complainant guilty of reverse domain name hijacking.

Vodacom (Pty) Ltd and Vodafone Group PLC filed the dispute against the owner of the domain who registered it in 2001. The earliest Vodafone can show any use of the term Video Play is 2014, according to the decision.

The Complainants tried to make a bad faith argument based on a single link on the site in 2003 pointing to what it says was an illegal download site. That’s a stretch…especially since the Complainant’s Video Play service didn’t exist until a decade later!

The domain registrant alleged that the Complainant “is misusing the UDRP system in an attempt to misappropriate the disputed domain name.”

For some reason, panelist Frederick Abbott did not formally decide on the issue of reverse domain name hijacking despite finding that the case was a bad one:

The Panel understands that Complainant thinks it would be a good idea to own the disputed domain name since it presumably has a commercial value to Complainant. But the Policy is not designed to accord rights to parties that think they have better uses for domain names than existing domain name registrants. Before an enterprise launches a commercial venture, it would be wise to investigate whether a domain name is available, or how much it might cost to purchase from a prior registrant.


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Author: Andrew Allemann

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