WIPO Panelist: “The business of buying and selling domain names can be a legitimate enterprise”
In a UDRP decision that has not yet been uploaded on the WIPO website as of the time of publication, Donald Trump prevailed over the registrant of TrumpEstates.com. This morning, the New York Post published an article written by Julia Marsh that covered this UDRP (WIPO Case D2015-0478).
It’s not a surprise that Mr. Trump and his legal team scored a victory to secure the TrumpEstates.com domain name. What is a bit of a nice surprise is a sentence that WIPO panelist W. Scott Blackmer apparently included in his decision: “The business of buying and selling domain names can be a legitimate enterprise.” According to the NY Post article, Mr. Blackmer followed that up by stating, “But it does not confer rights to use for that purpose a domain name identical or confusingly similar to another party’s trademark.”
Obviously the business of domain name investing is legitimate, and it has been for many years. Unfortunately, there are still some UDRP decisions that are a bit surprising to me. When I read through a decision I disagree with because the domain name is descriptive or a short acronym that can have many meanings, I sometimes wonder if the UDRP panelist genuinely thinks that domain investing is a legitimate business.
There is a residential development in Dubai bearing the Trump Estates name, and I presume the company intends to use TrumpEstates.com in conjunction with this project. I would imagine there are ways to use the “trump” keyword without issue since it’s a keyword with meaning (like apple, sky, or box), but if a domain owner uses it in any way that would infringe on the Trump trademarks, they are likely to face a challenge.
Despite the fact that UDRP decisions are not like case law, it’s good to see a panelist acknowledge that buying and selling domain name is a legit business. Once the decision has been published on the WIPO website, I will provide a link to it.
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