Domain name disputes: gaydar.net.au vs mygaydar.com

In a recent .au Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (auDRP) dispute concerning the domain name gaydar.net.au, the World Intellectual Property Organization domain name panellist ordered the transfer of gaydar.net.au to the complainant (see WIPO Case No. DAU2009-0003).  This led me to ask: how does this case differ from the mygadar.com case of 2003?  Back then, I was a rookie case manager at the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center and one of the first Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP) cases I managed was WIPO Case No. D2003-0221.  The “mygadar.com” complaint was dismissed.

Although both cases involved a very similar, and quite possibly generic domain name, which re-directed to a site offering dating services, it was obvious to the panellist that the owners of mygadar.com had a legitimate online dating business trading under that name.  They had operated its online dating service for four years, and had registered the trade mark GAYDAR in the EU and Australia.  It was equally clear to the panellist in the gaydar.net.au case that the Respondent did not operate an active site, using it only to trade off the reputation established by the complainant and show various advertisements for other dating providers.  It was also attempting to sell the site to third parties.

The dispute resolution policies for resolving domain name disputes (whether UDRP or auDRP) are intensely practical, with panellists determined to see behind any legal fictions and make judgments about whether a domain name holder is using the domain name as a legitimate business or for cybersquatting.  Indeed, some of our partners, such as John Swinson and Natalie Hickey, speak from experience on this in their role as domain name panellists.

 

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