Dances With Domain Names

Josh Bourne ⬥ February 10

Dances With Domain Names

While North Carolina State University at Raleigh’s athletes might be known as “the Wolfpack”, the University’s growl was unfortunately reduced to a whimper when a Panel denied its UDRP complaint.

The University filed the complaint against the Ascot Group, Inc. over the domain name, with the National Arbitration Forum (NAF). In its argument, the Complainant University attacks the Respondent on several fronts, alleging that the Respondent’s use of the colors red and white illustrate an attempt to pass itself off as the Complainant, and stating that the Respondent had specifically tried to sell the domain name to the Complainant in the past, after registering it with full knowledge of the Complainant’s right to the mark.

In response, the Respondent reveals that it is involved in a business endeavor to promote and sell snowshoes under the WOLFPACK brand, submitting its registration of and as proof. It also critically points out the generic nature of the term WOLFPACK, referencing the animals, German submarines, and the movie “The Hangover”. Lastly the Respondent delivered two final crushing blows: laches, the Complainant waited 15 years to file this claim; and reverse domain name hijacking (RDNH), the Complainant is abusing the UDRP to get the domain name without having to purchase it.

While the panel in this case ultimately sided with the Respondent in denying the Complainant’s request to transfer the ownership of the domain name, it also stated that it did not find the Complainant guilty of RDNH, specifically citing a previous UDRP case:  Gallup, Inc. v. PC+s.p.r.l., FA 190461 (Nat. Arb. Forum Dec. 2, 2003) (finding no reverse domain name hijacking where complainant prevailed on the “identical/confusingly similar” prong of the Policy). The Complainant’s case only failed because the panel felt that there was not enough evidence to support the Complainant’s assertion that the Respondent registered the domain name in bad faith.

In the end, the University was left howling at the moon with no word on whether it might try to negotiate a purchase deal with the winning Respondent.

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