Camper's claim to 'camper.net' kicked out

International

In Camper SL v Kasten, a World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) panellist has refused to order the transfer of 'camper.net' to the complainant. He found that although the respondent had held the domain name passively for an extended period, there was no evidence that he had registered it in bad faith.

Camper SL is a well-known Spanish firm that manufactures and sells leather goods, in particular, footwear. It owns several trademark registrations for CAMPER and has also registered several domain names, such as 'camper.com' and 'camper.fr'.

The respondent, an individual named Detlev Kasten, registered the domain name 'camper.net' in October 1997. Camper contacted him with a view to acquiring the domain name. Kasten, whose intention appears to have been to use the domain name to promote camping activities, refused to dispose of the domain name but indicated that he would not supply products and would only provide information or services on the site hosted at the domain name. Camper was not satisfied with this proposal and it filed a complaint with WIPO.

The panellist, Christian-André Le Stanc, held that the domain name was identical or at least confusingly similar to the CAMPER trademarks. He also found that Kasten had failed to provide any evidence that he had a legitimate interest in the domain name. However, Le Stanc stated that Camper had not shown that Kasten had registered or used the domain name in bad faith.

Le Stanc noted that the word 'camper' appears to be necessary to refer to campers or camping activity and it was not proved that Kasten had registered the name for another purpose. In addition, the panellist went on to say that holding a domain name does not, by itself, even for an extended period, constitute evidence of use in bad faith. There must be additional circumstances, such as an attempt by the respondent to conceal his true identity or the fact that the domain name comprises a name that can only sensibly refer to the complainant. Le Stanc noted that Kasten's behaviour in the course of the negotiations prior to the complaint appeared to confirm the absence of bad faith as it revealed his intention to find an amicable settlement allowing both parties to use their respective names without interfering with each other. Camper had failed to demonstrate that Kasten wanted to (i) make money to the detriment of Camper by selling the domain name at issue, or (ii) disrupt the business of a competitor.

Accordingly, Le Stanc dismissed Camper's complaint.

Patricia McGovern, LK Shields Solicitors, Dublin

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