Seoul District Court overturns NAF 'sex.biz' decision

South Korea

In Jeong v Schatte (Case 2002 Ga Hap 72847), the Seoul District Court has overruled a National Arbitration Forum (NAF) decision to transfer the domain name 'sex.biz' from its Korean registrant to the US owner of several SEX trademarks.

Il-ho Jeong, a Korean national, registered the domain name 'sex.biz' in March 2002 through Korean registrar Gabia Inc. In November 2002 a NAF panellist ordered the transfer of the domain name to Marcus R Schatte, a US citizen, on the grounds that Schatte already owned the domain name 'sex.com' and had registered the word 'sex' as a trademark in the United States (see 'Sex.biz' transferred to SEX trademark owner). However, to delay the enforcement of the NAF decision, Jeong filed a lawsuit with the Seoul District Court.

The court ruled that Jeong was the lawful owner of the disputed domain name. Although Schatte failed to accept the petition papers sent via the Korean embassy in the United States, the case proceeded to trial after the court published the papers on its website, in accordance with Korean law.

The court noted that Schatte had failed to provide any submissions and sided with Jeong's argument that the word 'sex' is a common noun in which a single person should not have exclusive rights. It also accepted the argument that the NAF decision prevented Jeong from running his business normally.

Yoon Bae Kim, Kims & Lees, Seoul

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