Brothers battle over winery domain names
In Alban Vineyards Inc v Alban, National Arbitration Forum (NAF) panellist William H Andrews has ordered the transfer of 'AlbanVineyards.com', 'AlbanVineyards.net' and 'AlbanVineyards.biz' to the complainant - a company owned by the registrant's brother.
John Alban incorporated under the name Alban Vineyards in 1989. The company specializes in Rhone grape varieties and has collected many awards and much acclaim over the years as the first US winery established exclusively for Rhone varieties.
John Alban's brother, Joe Alban, registered and used 'AlbanVineyards.com', 'AlbanVineyards.net' and 'AlbanVineyards.biz' to redirect internet users to his Hawaii-based Kona Joe's coffee business. John Alban requested that his brother transfer the domain names and, following the breakdown of negotiations, filed a complaint with NAF under the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy.
Joe Alban asserted that because his coffee beans are grown like grapes in a vineyard, he has established the world's first coffee vineyard and consumers have come to know his coffee business as Alban Vineyards.
Andrews found that John Alban had a protectable interest in the name Alban Vineyards, even though he had no registered trademark at the time Joe Alban registered the domain names. Andrews determined that Joe Alban's right to use his surname in association with his coffee vineyard business did "not correlate to a right to use complainant's mark in its entirety to divert internet users to his coffee business". Because Joe Alban's business was not affiliated with John Alban's winery and he had no permission from John Alban to use the ALBAN VINEYARDS mark and name, he had no rights or legitimate interests in the domain names.
Andrews also held that Joe Alban was trading on John Alban's name and goodwill, and had registered and used the domain names in bad faith. Accordingly, Andrews ordered the transfer of the disputed domain names to John Alban.
James L Bikoff and Patrick L Jones, Silverberg Goldman & Bikoff, Washington DC
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