June 07, 2005

Another -sucks.com decision

As I have already written, I don't think UDRP rules properly apply to "-sucks.com" names: To me, such names can't be deemed confusingly similar to trademarks. I then disagree with this WIPO decision (D2005-0168) which reads: "In this case the contested domain name consist of the well known trademark AIR FRANCE and the addition of the generic term "sucks". The incorporation of a well known trademark in its entirety as the first and dominant part of a domain name is confusingly similar to this trademark regardless of whether the additional elements are pejorative as in this case or of a more neutral kind such as "airfrancetickets"." Interestingly, the experts go further and write: "In this context the Panel explicitly wants to stress that the standard for finding confusingly similarity under the first element of the Policy, which is a rule specifically designed to address cybersquatting, is not the same standard as for finding trademark infringement."
There is a dissenting opinion - "In my opinion, the disputed domain name is not confusingly similar to Complainant’s AIR FRANCE mark. The domain name and mark do not look or sound alike and certainly do not convey the same commercial impression" - which also takes into account the diversity of internet users: "While the majority notes that not all international customers are familiar with the pejorative nature of the term “sucks,” it is likely that a substantial percentage of potential customers of Air France are familiar with the English language and, thus, would be aware of the pejorative nature of “sucks.”" (for more on languages and "-sucks" names, see my inventory here).

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