UDRP Panel Recognizes that where a Registrant Reasonably Believed that what He was Doing was Legitimate, then Registrant’s Domain Name Registration Cannot be in Bad Faith

May 28th, 2010

An article entitled, Finally, a UDRP Panel Respects the Scope of the Policy, by Andrew Allemann over at Domain Name Wire, highlighted a recent ruling by the UDRP Panel, where the Panel exercised discretion in elaborating on the scope of its definition of cybersquatting.

The case is Human Resource Certification Institute v. Tridibesh Satpathy, and it is an example of a dwindling number of recent cases where an innocent domain name owner is allowed to retain his domain name even though it appears to infringe on a complainant’s service mark rights.

The Panel held in favor of Defendant and noted that;

“if the Respondent reasonably believed that what he was doing was legitimate, it cannot be said that his registration of the Domain Name was in bad faith.”

The Panel further elaborated on trademark law and cybersquatting;

“The Policy was designed to deal with a relatively narrow form of dispute between trade mark (and service mark) proprietors and domain name registrants, namely the deliberate registration of a domain name featuring the complainant’s trade mark or a confusingly similar variant of it with a view to causing damage or disruption to the complainant or his business or unfairly exploiting the complainant’s trade mark for the registrant’s own advantage.”

Allemann also noted of the Panel’s ruling that “it followed up with an explanation of why this is not a clear-cut case of cybersquatting, and why then the complaint must fail:”

“Is the Respondent’s use of the Domain Name in violation of the Complainant’s service mark rights in a traditional trademark sense? The Panel cannot be certain. By reference to which country’s trade mark law is the question to be answered? One of the members of the Panel believes that in certain jurisdictions such a use of another’s service mark might be regarded as a fair descriptive use of the service mark to describe the educational services provided by the Respondent.

However, whether or not the Respondent’s use of the Domain Name constitutes trade mark/service mark infringement is outside the scope of this proceeding. For the purposes of the Policy, if the Respondent reasonably believed that what he was doing was legitimate, it cannot be said that his registration of the Domain Name was in bad faith.”

The Panel’s full ruling on the case can be found here,

If you are faced with a cybersquatting case under the UDRP or the ACPA, contact one of our cybersquatting attorneys today.  You may be entitled to recover your domain name through a cybersquatting case under the UDRP or the ACPA.