Google Glass seems to be facing a lot of scrutiny these days, with one woman claiming she was attacked at a bar for wearing a pair, and a man detained for hours on suspicion of piracy when he wore them to see a movie. Even the company found itself at the center of conflict, when recently trying to recover the domain name howtogetglass.com using the UDRP.
Google filed a UDRP complaint with the National Arbitration Forum against a non-responsive, privacy-protected Respondent listed simply as WP-3/whoisproxy.com Ltd. Unfortunately, just because a Respondent fails to respond, doesn’t automatically result in a “win” – the Complainant must still prove all three elements of the UDRP to obtain a transfer.
In this case, Google’s biggest challenge was definitely the “generic” nature of its GLASS trademark. In many UDRP cases involving generic terms the Complainants struggle to prove that the Respondent doesn’t have rights or legitimate interest in the domain name. Luckily Google came prepared and was able to leap this hurdle easily.
Google’s main weapon was the fact that the Respondent was pointing the domain name to a website titled “Google Glass Giveaway – How to get Google Glass for free,” a clear attempt to profit by redirecting consumers seeking information about the Complainant’s device. The nail in the coffin was the Respondent’s attempts to pass itself off as Google through pictures copied from the official GLASS site and use of the GLASS mark.
While Google had a rock solid case in this instance, not all brand owners will be as lucky, particularly when it comes to generic terms. Also, not all Respondents will be so foolish as to blatantly copy official materials onto an infringing website. What this case does highlight, however, is the power of doing your homework and coming prepared with the right evidence, as well as making sure one has a “crystal clear” understanding of how the UDRP is meant to be used.
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