Registrant of 'wwwaab.com' guilty of abusing proceedings
In ABB Asea Brown Boveri Ltd v Yvonne Bienen, Bienen Enterprises, World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) panellist Tony Willoughby has transferred 'wwwaab.com' to ABB Asea Brown Boveri Ltd. Willoughby held that Bienen Enterprises had no legitimate interest in the domain name and had registered it in bad faith. He also found that the company had abused the proceedings by intimidating the registrar and engaging in cyberflight (ie, attempting to evade service of process by changing the name of the registrant).
Asea Brown Boveri owns rights in the trademark ABB and is the registered owner of the domain name 'abb.com'. It filed a complaint against the registrant of the domain name 'wwwabb.com' for trademark infringement. One hour after filing the complaint, a change of registrant was made to the Whois database. Bienen Enterprises (the subsequent registrant) allegedly issued a communication to the registrar suggesting that its privacy rights were threatened by the registrar's communications with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Centre. Following the communication, the registrar was reluctant to participate in the proceedings.
Bienen Enterprises argued that the complaint had been addressed to the wrong party (the previous registrant), and that an amendment should not have been accepted. It also accused Willoughby of (i) bias in favour of trademark owners, and (ii) lacking experience. Bienen Enterprises further contended that the disputed domain name was an acronym for 'World Wide Association for Breasts and Buttocks', and would be used to promote that organization.
Willoughby rejected the arguments. He noted that there appeared to be a very close relationship between the first and second registrants, suggesting that cyberflight had occurred. He found that Bienen Enterprises had attempted to intimidate the registrar and noted that his experience could not be questioned since he has participated in over 100 domain name decisions.
Willoughby held that Bienen Enterprises had no rights or legitimate interest in the name and had acted in bad faith since its primary goal was to elicit a substantial offer for the domain name. He concluded his judgment with a comment on Bienen Enterprises' behaviour which he described as a "a disgrace, a grotesque abuse of this administrative proceeding". He lamented the fact that the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy does not give panellists the option to assess costs.
Arthur E Appleton and Kamen Troller, Lalive & Partners, Geneva
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