A recent UDRP case demonstrates that businesses are not the only ones concerned about protecting their brands and reputations online. Yale University recently filed a complaint with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in an attempt to recover the domain name yaleuniversity.com.
In this case, the university, widely considered to be one of the most prestigious and selective universities in the world, benefitted from the fact that the respondent, an individual named Eric Keller, is a “notorious cybersquatter” who has been named in a number of other UDRP cases and was even sued for cybersquatting by Brach’s Confections, Inc. in federal court.
This led the WIPO panel to state in its decision that it does not accept the respondent’s assertion that the domain name was registered in order to pay tribute to the university and the positive experiences his son enjoyed there and that the claim is instead nothing but “pure fabrication”.
The panel then goes on to state it finds that the respondent registered the domain name in order to prevent the university “from reflecting its famous YALE UNIVERSITY mark in a domain name in the coveted “.com” space.” I found this acknowledgement by the panel of the value of the .COM space very interesting and wonder how this might change in the coming months and years given the launch of new generic top-level domains (gTLDs).
Not only will universities like Yale need to protect their trademarks and reputations in the .COM space, but they will have to consider what to do in the forthcoming .UNIVERSITY and .SCHOOL gTLDs. The domain name yaleuniversity.com was registered in 1998, and the university itself was only able to recover the domain name in 2013. Rather than also being forced to play catch-up in the new Internet space, Yale would be smart to be proactive and come up with a strategy/approach to new gTLDs now, while it’s ahead of the game.
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