Domainmonster.com Domain Editorials
Domainer Wins UDRP
A UDRP verdict was recently released following a case being filed by Holy Mother World Networks of Toronto, against Domainer Gregg Ostrick. Holy Mother are a not for profit organisation that market themselves as “Canada’s Catholic Radio Station” and you can listen to their broadcasts 24 hours a day from their domain HMWN.net. The respondent owns the .com version of the domain and Holy Mother claimed they had legitimate rights to HMWN.com and enjoy Unregistered Trademark rights on the acronym as they are a well-known brand in Canada.
It’s certainly caused a lot of debate between the panellists, and the case was eventually ruled in the respondents favour. I for one am unsure who’s side I’m inclined to take!
Holy Mother have had their domain active featuring their site since 2001, with the disputed domain name being registered in 2002. I would certainly hope there was a good reason why they didn’t also snap up the .com at the same time, or they’re probably feeling very sheepish that they have filed a UDRP and subsequently lost.
Holy Mother claimed that the domain was registered in bad faith, as Ostrick had links on the site which advertised the domain for sale, showing supposed evidence of profiteering and taking advantage of the trading name of the Complainant. They also claimed that although they had only become aware of the disputed domain name recently, Ostrick should have been aware of their organisation before he registered the domain, as they are a well-known organisation in Canada and the US.
This strikes me as a little unfair considering that the disputed domain was registered back in 2002. The brand may be well known at the present time, but there’s no telling whether this was the case back in 2002 when Ostrick acquired the domain.
In response to the complaint, Ostrick noted that Holy Mother had made no reference to the fact that they were using HMWN as a trading name back in 2002 when he registered the name. He also noted that the acronym had other biblical meanings and when you search HMWN in Google along with the word “Greek” you find a series of results eluding to the religious meaning rather than the Brand name of the complainant. I’m unsure if this was really his motivation for registering the domain back in 2002 however, and it simply smacks as a welcome stroke of good luck for his defense!
The panel accepted this however, and Ostrick has held on to the domain, at least until he decides to sell it! They concluded that often when anyone registers a domain (especially a group of seemingly random letters) it is often for resale, and the purchase was not made directly in bad faith. They also agreed with Ostricks observation that Holy Mother had not provided evidence that they were in fact using the acronym as a trademark back in 2002 when the disputed domain was first acquired.
It seems one panelist might have been a little uncomfortable with the decision however, and chose to record a “dissenting opinion” indicating that he disagreed with the majority verdict. Edoardo Fano commented that the respondent was a “sophisticated domainer” and most probably knew of the implications before he registered the domain, and if he didn’t, certainly should have! He also pointed out that everyone who registers a domain name has a duty to do their best to make sure they‘re not infringing on anyone else’s rights.
The dissenting opinion was included in the official decision on the WIPO website, and certainly seems to serve as a slap on the wrist to Ostrick! There is no doubt that there are two very different sides to this story here, and it seems that Ostrick was very lucky to hold on to his domain this time…