Recent Case Notes & Commentary

Another Victory for Free Speech

Or, at the least, it gives a right or legitimate interest in a domain name that is being used to cover parliamentary news. But the case also decided some other issues. The decision was The Hellenic Parliament v. Press Office/Vasilios Betas, (WIPO Case No. 100087) and it concerned the disputed domain name <vouli.net>, the Greek word for parliament.


The Hellenic Parliament brought the claim, which stumbled at the first hurdle, as it did not have a registered trademark in the word VOULI. Next, the complainant claimed exclusive rights to the word as it is the word by which the Greek Parliament is known in the Greek Constitution.


Not did that get very far and the panellist found that an unregistered trademark had not been shown for “vouli” means “parliament” and therefore is, in principle, a generic term. As such it is in fact also used to designate other parliaments.’


The Complainant had not shown any secondary meaning, so there was no unregistered trademark.


In any event, the panellist continued, there was a right or legitimate interest because the website “contains news and articles of a political and parliamentary nature and the adoption of that domain name would therefore appear reasonable.”


Nor was there bad faith, because the facts did not come within any of the criteria in paragraph 4(b) of the Policy and the activities on the website were within the meaning of the domain name.


A good win for the Respondent, particularly as it was an undefended case and the Respondent had not put in a Response. Perhaps this is also fair as Greece is the birthplace of democracy.


On freedom of expression in the context of domain names, see the discussion in Domain Times of Mercury Radio Arts, Inc. and Glenn Beck v. Isaac Eiland-Hall, (WIPO Case No. D2009-1182) and Sutherland Institute v. Continuative LLC, (WIPO Case No. D2009-0693).

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