Reg Vardy wins controversial cybersquatting decision

International

In a troubling departure from ICANN's Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP) rules, the panel in Reg Vardy Plc v David Wilkinson ordered Wilkinson to transfer certain domain names which he had established as customer complaint sites to Reg Vardy, the third largest motor retailer in the United Kingdom.

Reg Vardy, the registered owner of the UK trademark REGVARDY, has an official website at www.regvardy.com. Wilkinson, who was not represented in this action and failed to file a formal response, registered 'reg-vardy.com', 'reg-vardy.org' and 'reg-vardy.net' as customer complaint sites.

The UDRP states that one way of proving bad faith is by showing that registration of the domain names was primarily for the purpose of disrupting the business of a competitor. The panel admitted that Wilkinson and Reg Vardy are not competitors, but that bad faith was established by looking at all the circumstances of the case. The panel appears to have been influenced by the venomous nature of Wilkinson's criticism.

This decision has been criticized by free-speech advocates and it is questionable whether the same result would have occurred on a panel using US law.

Mark Radcliffe and Shan Bhati, Gray Cary Ware & Freidenrich LLP, Palo

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