Typosquatter burned out by Vaillant


In Vaillant A/S v Frederiksen, a Danish Internet Forum (DIFO) panel has ordered the transfer of 'vailant.dk' to the complainant - the owner of the VAILLANT mark. The panel held that the use of a misspelling of the complainant's trademark as a domain name for a criticism website would cause confusion and uncertainty in the marketplace.

Vaillant owns the VAILLANT trademark for, among other things, furnaces, boilers and water heaters. The Danish version of its website features a number of distinctive logos and designs. Thomas Frederiksen purchased a VAILLANT-marked furnace in 1996 and claims to have had repeated problems with it. These problems were described chronologically on a website located at 'vailant.dk'. The site also included some of the images and characteristic details appearing on Vaillant's website. Vaillant filed a complaint against Frederiksen.

The DIFO panel held that although certain legitimate criticism sites are allowed under Danish law, Frederiksen's website was likely to be confused with Vaillant's official website and cause uncertainty in the marketplace. It noted that Frederiksen's registration was motivated as much by economic gain as by freedom of expression and as a result, his use of the website was a commercial activity in contravention of bona fide marketing practices.

Peter-Ulrik Plesner, Plesner Svane Grønborg, Copenhagen

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