An arbitrator under the WIPO domain name dispute resolution policy has held that Meg Whitman, CEO of eBay for ten years, has no remedy against someone who registered several domain names relating to a possible attempt by Ms Whitman to run for governor of California in 2010. The report on OutLaw.com has a link to the decision itself.
Some of the domains were megwhitmanforgovernor.com and meg2010.com.
The essence of the decision is that Ms Whitman did not have a custom of commercial use of her name and thus had not established a ‘common law trademark’ in it. Mere fame was not enough to protect the name under the UDRP.
Is this a reasonable result? Can one not argue that Ms Whitman has been deprived of real value by these registrations, and that the registrant can have had very little likely good faith motive for creating them? At the time of the decision, the sites using the names had ‘for sale’ indicators on them…
It is said that domain names are not the same as trademarks, in that they can be used for many reasons besides indicating the origin of goods and services described on the website with which the name is used. Some of the non-trademark uses can be fan sites, critical sites, general commentary sites, literary sites and probably just pure coincidence sites.
If this is true, then is it fair to limit a complainant to making arguments that can be supported under the law of trademarks?
Would the Canadian DRP produce the same result? I recall Anne McClellan, when she was Deputy Prime Minister, having trouble with someone who had registered a site under her name. I forget what happened to her complaint.