Different Domain Dispute Decisions

Written by Samuel O’Toole | March 26, 2021

IP Disputes

In this ad hoc series that I have just coined, I intend to provide you with an overview of domain name dispute decisions that, quite frankly are different to the norm. Our expert lawyers are able to discuss all things domain names with you but in summary there are generally two ways of dealing with disputes over domain names. The first is by way of court proceedings, this can be expensive and time consuming so is often best as a last resort; the second method is by way of domain name proceedings.

Each of the domain registries (the nice people who take care of domains, e.g. Nominet who look after the .uk domains) has its own dispute policy. Overall there are requirements for a complainant to show it has rights in a mark, which the domain name is identical or similar to, and that the domain was registered in bad faith or is an abusive registration.

Providing a complainant can make out each element of the registry dispute policy the domain will be handed over or terminated.

The recent case of RigMinder Operating, LLC v. Evan Gooch, YachtMinder Systems gives us an overview of what the dispute policy will not do however. These were proceedings brought by RigMinder against the owner of the <rigminder.com> domain name. RigMinder has the RIGMINDER trade mark registered in the US. This isn’t really a case about domain ownership, rather its about passwords (alarm bells ringing).

In its submissions, RigMinder stated “The domain name is owned by Complainant. Respondent’s failure to provide the passwords to complete this transfer and Respondent’s continuing ability to have access to the domain name and its content is being done in bad faith.” And “Complainant is missing two passwords, the one for GoDaddy and the one for Amazon web services. The GoDaddy password is the one Complainant needs for domain control.”

It would appear that RigMinder brought these proceedings to regain control over a domain, for which its employees are refusing to release the passwords. The panellist caught onto this and the domain complaint came to a swift conclusion thereafter: the panellist detailed that it could not find that the domain name has been registered in bad faith. It was explained that whilst RigMinder provided lots in the way of details about who has control over the passwords, it did not set out how the domain was registered i.e. by who, when and how.

A key part of these proceedings was RigMinder’s requirement to show how the domain was registered in bad faith, by discussing the password issue and not the domain registration the panel could not find in RigMinder’s favour. This is now likely to scupper RigMinder’s chances of bringing a new domain complaint.

Domain proceedings are good at what they do: recovering domains which have been registered in bad faith, not for recovering passwords. All of our lawyers are well versed in domain disputes and as we offer a fee consultation we can provide you with an overview and our initial advice for free, please take us up on the offer and save domain disputes for their purpose – domains!

Written by Sam O’Toole, Solicitor

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