Domain Name Decision

In a story that reads like a law-school exam, a company with a German trade-mark took a California man to arbitration to try and win the domain name, which is registered under the rules for the country code top-level domain for Montenegro.  iPhone app developer (the German company) recently lost at arbitration before the World Intellectual Property Office Arbitration and Mediation Centre.  The decision GmbH v. Alan Lin Case No. DME2009-0008 is noteworthy for several reasons:

1. The German company failed primarily because the domain name in question was applied for before the company was incorporated or the trade-mark was applied for. The California registrant who initially registered the domain name couldn’t have registered it to take advantage of the German company’s brand, since the German company didn’t exist at the time.

2. Domain name arbitration decisions typically ignore the suffix (.com, .ca or in this case .me) but this decision notes that “a determination of identicalness and similarity of a .me domain name may in appropriate cases be based on a consideration of the domain name as a whole – that is, of the domain name including the “.me” suffix.”  Future domain name disputes may take this reasoning into account.

3. This case illustrates the international nature of intellectual property disputes and shows why it’s important to get advice on trade-marks, branding, and domain name strategies.

Calgary – 11:00 MST

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