Decisions: Good Grief!

Steve Levy ⬥ 22 January

As an experienced domain name lawyer will tell you, if some sort of contract exists between the parties to a domain name dispute, there’s a strong chance it’s not going to make for a successful UDRP case. The challenge in a UDRP complaint that pitted two Canadian grief recovery services against one another has only lead to pain and hardship for the parties. The Complainant, The Grief Recovery Institute, based in British Columbia, and the Respondent, Ontario-based Grief Recovery Institute, used to be business partners, and now the Complainant is attempting to win back use of GRIEF.NET and GRIEF-RECOVERY.COM.

According to the Complainant, the two parties began working together back in the 1990′s, and the Complainant instructed the Respondent to register the disputed domain names under the company’s name and have them redirect to the business’s main site. Instead, the Respondent registered the domains under his own name, and in 2010, the Complainant noticed that the domains were instead resolving to the site of a different, competing grief counseling service.

While it is not clear when the business relationship between the two parties broke down, the current animosity between the Complainant and Respondent is evident in the UDRP complaint, as are certain attempts to discern the truth. The Complainant neglects to reveal that a dispute was filed in the Federal Court of Canada over rightful ownership of the domain names in this complaint, and that the dispute is still currently open. When the Respondent reveals this, he requests that the complaint be terminated.

The Respondent also raises the issues of laches, citing that the Complainant waited 16 years after one of the domain names was first registered to file this complaint, but once the National Arbitration Forum (NAF) Panelist learns of the ongoing proceedings, he agrees with the Respondent and orders that the case be terminated. If that wasn’t enough, he explains that the contractual disputes that lie at the heart of this case do not fall within UDRP jurisdiction, dismissing the case on those grounds as well.

It’s clear that the Complainant attempted to bypass the pending lawsuit and win back the domain names in another fashion, but the Panelist didn’t fall for it. UDRP Panelists are experienced and have pretty much seen it all in terms of domain name disputes, so cases like this should be a reminder to use UDRP complaints for their intended purpose and not as a means to bypass other legal proceedings.

Tags: British Colombia, domain names, enforcement, Federal Court of Canada, grief counseling services, Grief Recovery Institute, laches, NAF, National Arbitration Forum, Ontario, The Grief Recovery Institute, UDRP

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