Dreamlines GMbH v. Darshinee Naidu / World News Inc
WIPO Case: D2016-0111
March 17, 2016
This case is a good illustration that the Panel will not look favourably on a Complainant who brings a complaint knowing that it is unlikely to succeed, and this will often be an important consideration on the question of Reverse Domain Hijacking. See Jazeera Space Channel TV Station v AJ Publishing, D2015-1415 (WIPO Dec. 13; 2015).
The disputed domain name was <dreamlines.com>; it was selected and registered on December 15, 1997 as part of a portfolio of domain names to build into a media search engine, "WN", which delivered information using a dynamic algorithm to select popular videos, articles and news. The registrant of the disputed domain name was Dharshinee Naidu, daughter of Minakumari Periasamy, director of World News Inc.
The Complainant was a German limited liability company, which had operated a “Dreamlines”, branded Internet platform to promote and market international travel agency services specialising in cruise voyages since 2011. The Complainant was the owner of inter alia a European Community registered trademark for the mark DREAMLINES, registered on January 24, 2012.
Preliminary Matter: Respondent Identity
The Respondent stated that Ms. Naidu is the daughter of a director of World News Inc. although no evidence was provided to this effect. The mere existence of a family relationship between an individual and the director of a corporation would not generally entitle the corporation to speak on behalf of the individual. However the Response provided evidence relevant to the issues between the Parties and this evidence, taken together with the WhIs record of the disputed domain name, were in the Panel's view sufficient to make out a case for the Respondent.
Reverse Domain Name Hijacking
The UDRP Rules define Reverse Domain Hijacking under Rule 15(e) as "using the UDRP in bad faith to attempt to deprive a registered domain-name holder of a domain name". In the present case the Panel found the Complaint had been brought in bad faith because it was clear that the domain name predated the trademark and "there was no way that as at the date of creation of the disputed domain name the Respondent could have contemplated the Complainant's then non-existence and its then non-existent rights."
Panels have noted that proceedings under the policy should not be commenced in an unjustifiable attempt to pressure a domain name owner into releasing a legitimately held domain name that considerably pre-dates any trademark rights held by the complainant. See Sustainable Forestry Management Limited v. SFM.com and James M van Johns 'Infa dot Net' Web Service, D2002-0535 (WIPO, Nov. 13; 2015).
Complainants should be wary of bringing cases where their trademarks are predated by the disputed domain name. It is likely they will be found to be abusing the UDRP procedure.