Domain name registrar Namecheap, Inc., a company that has no doubt profited from the cybersquatting activities of its customers, recently found the tables turned when it filed and lost a UDRP complaint over the domain name namechap.com. Namecheap filed the complaint with the National Arbitration Forum against Respondent Ky Song alleging that the domain name infringes upon Namecheap’s trademark registration for NAMECHEAP.
In support of its argument, Namecheap points to the fact that the Respondent is using the domain name to redirect Internet users to competing hosting and domain name registration services, such as GoDaddy. This isn’t the first time that Namecheap has used the UDRP to try to protect its digital assets as evidenced by successful previous complaints filed over domain names such as nmecheap.com, naecheap.com, and namecehap.com.
In its (quite lengthy) discussion, the NAF Panel discusses why Namecheap failed to prove that the domain name is identical and/or confusingly similar to its trademark. The Panel states that “namechap” does not constitute a misspelling or even “typosquatting” given that it consists of two generic terms, “name” and “chap”, each with a clear meaning of its own. The Panel goes so far as to say the missing “e” even distinguishes the domain name from Namecheap’s trademark.
At that point the content of the Respondent’s website no longer mattered, given that Namecheap failed to establish the first of the three elements required under ICANN policy, all that is needed for the Panel to conclude that relief should be denied. It’s interesting to see a domain name registrar lose such a battle, but it could have been worse. While Namecheap failed to recover the domain name, it was able to escape the Respondent’s accusation of reverse domain name hijacking.
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