Politics and domain names often walk hand in hand these days. Organizing for Action, a non-profit organization aligned with the Democratic Party, was recently unsuccessful in recovering two domain names containing its name: organizingforaction.com and organizingforaction.org. In addition, the domain name organizingforaction.net was registered by a third party who indicated that he would refuse to sell or transfer the domain to the organization. Initially, the domain pointed to the home page for the National Rifle Association (“NRA”) and now points to a YouTube video of Ben Carson’s speech at the National Prayer Breakfast.
In its decision, the three-member UDRP Panel noted that while Organizing for Action did satisfy the requirement that the domain names are “confusingly similar, if not legally identical”, to its name, it did not have a trademark registration and insufficient time had passed since the first use of the name to create common law trademark rights. The Panel also noted that the “non-distinctive nature of the expression” was a significant factor in its decision. In addition, it is interesting to note that the Panel cited one of the WIPO Panel Views on Selected UDRP Questions despite the fact that this case was filed with the National Arbitration Forum.
Based on the above factors, the Panel ordered that the complaint be denied. Organizing for Action will, for the time being at least, rely on its https://my.barackobama.com/page/s/organizing-for-action microsite. It will be interesting to see if Organizing for Action pursues other domain names ahead of the 2014 Congressional races and if its pending trademark application is granted, perhaps giving it a renewed opportunity to go after against these domain names again.
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