Sometimes a UDRP complaint comes along which obviously never should have been filed in the first place. The Restored Church of God’s complaint against Alexa Properties, LLC over the domain name RT.org, filed with the World Intellectual Property Organization, falls into that category.
The Ohio-based church likely did not consult outside UDRP experts when filing the complaint, as it was “represented internally,” and this lack of experience contributed to the filing meeting not one, not two, but none of the required elements for domain name transfer.
The Complainant asserted common law rights to the mark “RT”, as it operates a magazine called The Real Truth Magazine, and purportedly uses “RT” as an abbreviation commercially. The Complainant also alleges that consumers are confused by the Respondent’s use of RT.org to host links in lieu of legitimate content and alleges that it offered to buy the domain name from the Respondent for $5,000, only to be countered by a $30,000 price tag.
The Respondent pointed out that his use of the domain name is largely irrelevant for purposes of the UDRP because the Complainant has no prior rights to the mark. The respondent registered RT.org in 1998, a full four years before the Complainant alleges any common law rights to the RT mark, and moreover, those common law rights are very suspect, according to the Panelist.
In the end, the Panelist ordered that the domain name remain with the Respondent, as the Complainant could not prove any rights to the disputed domain name. It also narrowly avoided a finding of reverse domain hijacking. Complaints like this should be a lesson on how important it is to consult UDRP experts before filing a complaint, because they can save time and money, as well as a brand owner’s valuable reputation.
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