It’s nice to see squatters getting slapped by the Czech court.
The recent decision (02438) is an incredibly long and detailed document, however it makes for compelling reading – especially if you or your company have been targetted by squatters.
The basic details are as follows:
Ask.eu was granted to a company, First Internet Technology Limited, on the basis of a Benelux trademark. Anyone who has been around for the last couple of years would be very aware that ask.com is a well known search engine, so it’s hardly surprising that their European agent / licensee would contest the registration via an ADR.
What makes this case so interesting, from my point of view at least, is the detail of the panel’s reponse, which I am sure will act as a wonderful resource for future ADR proceedings against cyberwarehousing / squatting companies.
Some snippets from the decision really caught my eye:
It seems extremely curious to say the least that the Respondent is asserting that it has registered the Benelux Mark to protect what it alleges will be promotional giveaways (presumably to be issued in the Benelux territories only) rather than make any effort to protect its own goods and services directly. The Panel quite frankly does not believe the Respondent’s submission as to the true intention behind the Benelux Mark. In the Panel’s view, the more credible explanation of the Respondent’s interest is offered by the Complainant who points out that the Benelux Mark was filed purely for the purpose of application for the disputed domain name. The terms of the Respondent’s other Benelux trade marks, of which some 47 were listed by the Respondent following a request by the Panel, are apparently very similar; in general they consist of an English word for which the associated goods and services are generally plectrums; all of which were applied for on 22 November 2005. Doubtless the Respondent will have prepared photographs of plectrums bearing appropriate slogans for each of the relative marks but its having done so is not conclusive of its true intention in the Panel’s view.
In the present case, where the facts are strikingly similar, it is stretching credulity beyond breaking point for the Respondent to claim that its intention was genuinely to protect promotional items in the Benelux territories. It is far more likely in the Panel’s mind that the Respondent registered all of its Benelux marks purely to support speculative applications for certain domain names under the phased registration period.