Cobrajet, Inc. v. The Endurance International Group, Inc, DOMAIN PRIVACY SERVICE FBO REGISTRANT / Cobra Jet, Cobrajetaviation
WIPO Case No. D2020-2264
Domain name: <cobrajetaviation.com>
Panels appointed by UDRP dispute resolution providers are strict when it comes to the implementation of the UDRP and its real purpose – it is not the setting for you to resolve disputes about trademarks, copyright infringement, or in a recent case, allegedly disgruntled employees.
In the recent WIPO decision concerning <cobrajetaviation.com>, an employer took a former employee to a Panel and attempted to use the UDRP to retrieve a domain name the employee had registered but refused to hand over after his time at the company ended. The Panel determined that the nature of the dispute alone was sufficient to reject the complaint, which it did.
However, the Panel went on to say that even if it had entertained the complaint, the Complainant would have lost anyway, for two key reasons.
The Panel noted that partially due to the thin evidence provided by the Complainant, the case was weak from the beginning. The Complainant could not establish that it held a trademark in the company name, as it was only able to provide as evidence an application for such a trademark, which is of course not a trademark. Needless to say, the Panel was not impressed by this.
Secondly, and more relevantly, the Panel could not in these circumstances find bad faith. As is well established under the UDRP requirements, for a complaint to be successful the Panel must find both bad faith registration and bad faith usage. The domain was registered on behalf of the company by the employee, who was reimbursed by the company in full. There was no evidence to suggest that the relationship was not amicable at the time, and it was determined that this occurred in the normal course of business, which did not amount to bad faith.
Even if the Panel were to make a determination on this dispute, a dispute far from the reaches of the UDRP, it would have failed on these factors. It noted that “such a dispute… gives rise to questions of breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, and potentially local employment laws, all of which are more appropriately decided in a court or employment tribunal, not before a UDRP panel”.
The key lesson from this decision is that a UDRP panel is not the place to determine disputes that are not strictly domain name disputes If you take a complex case like this one to a panel under the UDRP, prepare to be disappointed!
Incidentally, this case was undefended, showing yet again that a case can be lost even if the respondent does not put up a fight.