WIPO panellist refuses monopoly in biblical names


In PHE Inc v Xiaofeng Wei, World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) panellist Roderick M Thompson has refused to order the transfer of 'adameve.tv' to the owner of trademarks incorporating the names Adam and Eve.

The complainant, PHE, registered variations of the trademarks ADAMEVE.COM and ADAM & EVE for sexual paraphernalia, sex toys, and related online products and services. It also registered the domain name 'adameve.com' as well as variations on its trademarks, including common typographical errors. Xiaofeng Wei registered 'adameve.tv' with the intention to establish an online dating service. PHE filed a complaint with WIPO.

Thompson refused to order the transfer of 'adameve.tv' to PHE. He established that Wei had not made any actual use of the disputed domain name and concluded that Wei had no legitimate interests in the domain name.

The case turned on whether Wei had registered the domain name in bad faith. Thompson found that a reference to the original biblical couple Adam and Eve in connection with the selection of a domain name for an online dating service was "not implausible". It also seemed to Thompson unlikely that Wei had decided to use the domain name based on PHE's trademarks. Thompson concluded that Wei had not registered the domain name in bad faith and accordingly denied PHE's complaint.

In doing so, he pointed out that (i) a monopoly cannot be acquired for use of biblical names that are "well-known and thoroughly ingrained in countless ways in our society", and (ii) where a well-known biblical association is concerned, non-use of the domain name or 'parking' for possible future use does not in itself support an inference of bad faith.

Marcus Hughes, Hammonds, London

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