Recent Case Notes & Commentary

Snapchat, Inc. v. PRIVATE REGISTRANT / A HAPPY DREAMHOST CUSTOMER

NAF Case: FA1412001593519

January 12, 2015


Snapchat provides photo and video sharing services through an app. It has been phenomenally successful, to the extent that It has 60 million users and 77% of US college students apparently use Snapchat at least once a day. One wonders what they are all looking at. It has a trademark for SNAPCHAT. It is frequently referenced in the media and popular culture and often written up in Mashable , the Huffington Post and elsewhere.


On January 1, 2014 the Respondent registered the domain name <snapchatcheck.com> through a privacy protection service provided by DreamHost, LLC.  The domain name goes to the website  “SnapchatCheck.” Why? Well, that website purports to allow visitors to determine whether a Snapchat username or telephone number has been made public as a result of a January 1, 2014 security leak at Snapchat.


The website also prominently features an image of Snapchat’s Ghost Logo at the top of the website’s homepage. Snapchat has lots of trademarks for the Ghost Logo.


At the bottom of the Snapchat Check website is a link to Bourne Technologies, said to be owned and operated by the Respondent. Snapchat did not like this at all, sought the transfer of the domain name to itself and argued that Snapchat Check was passing itself off as Snapchat or was implying that Snapchat sponsored or was associated with Snapchat Check. The Panellist who decided the case had no trouble finding, first, that the domain name was confusingly similar to the trademark as “check” was just a generic word added to SNAPCHAT.


But on the second issue Snapchat failed, because the panellist decided that the Respondent had a right or legitimate interest in the domain name.


The panellist gave two reasons.

The first was that he had looked at the website and did not agree that it was passing itself of as  Snapchat. Presumably he meant that the essence of the website was that it was not Snapchat, but that it was offering help to Snapchat users who might have had their data leaked, which was  not

something that Snapchat would be likely to be canvassing in public. This was so even although there was no disclaimer on the website.


The second reason the panellist decided in favour of the Respondent was that there were some decided cases where the registrant of a domain name had been held to have a right or legitimate interest in a domain name. Presumably he felt that these cases were analogous.

  1. The first case was a “ sucks case”, concerning <homedepotsucks.com>

  2. The second was a gripe site (although the gripe was not mentioned in the domain name;)

  3. The third, concerning the domain names <hivinnocencegrouptruth.com> and <hivinnocenceprojecttruth.com>, was a “sucks case” of sorts

  4. And the fourth  was used to disseminate information for consumer.

Accordingly, the panellist’s thinking would seem to be that, as in those case, the domain name in the present case was being used for a non-commercial, information service which was legitimate ( although the link to Bourne Technologies seems to lead to a commercial organisation).


On the third issue, bad faith, the Respondent also won, as the panellist felt that a finding of there being no bad faith registration and use followed, unless it could be shown that there had been bad faith, which was not the case.


Domain Times is not in the business of predicting, but on this occasion we think this case may be used in the future in other cases. It is one of the few cases where a trademark has been fully incorporated into a domain name, used in reference to the trademark owner’s business and yet for a use found to be legitimate and not in bad faith.




[1]  Homer TLC, Inc. v. GreenPeople , NAF Case, FA0508000550345, 25 October , 2005.

[2] The Situs Companies LLC v. Paul Cheek , NAF Case FA1203001436733, 10 May 2012.

[3] Office of Medical & Scientific Justice, Inc. v. J Todd DeShong, NAF Case, FA1302001486064, 6 May, 2013.

[4] ADT US Holdings, Inc. v. Robert Seketa, NAF Case FA1309001520241, 25 October, 2013.

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