Criticism website taken down due to registrant's small profit
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In Ryanair Limited v Tyler (Case D00008527, October 7 2010), a Nominet adjudicator has ordered the transfer of the domain name 'ihateryanair.co.uk' to Ryanair Limited.
Dissatisfied with Ryanair's services, respondent Robert Tyler launched the 'I Hate Ryanair' weblog at 'ihateryanair.co.uk'. The blog became quite popular. Calling Ryanair the "world's most hated airline", Tyler hosted fiercely critical posts which included "an interview with a man allegedly arrested for refusing to pay for a sandwich, and a lampoon of the airline's comment that it might provide standing room on its flights". The airline filed a complaint with Nominet to obtain the transfer of the domain name.
The adjudicator considered that nothing in the subject matter of the site breached Nominet's Dispute Resolution Service Policy: while Ryanair had some goodwill and reputation in legal terms, it had also built up a reservoir of substantial dissatisfaction over its services. Indeed, it had also generated 'badwill' in that, for many, it had become synonymous with trying to obtain maximum money from customers through the use of unappealing revenue-generating techniques. The adjudicator pointed out that the primary function of the site was to criticise Ryanair, not to disrupt its business: "Any disruption resulting from criticism appearing on a website is merely something businesses have to deal with on a daily basis."
However, links to third-party websites that earned Tyler money were problematic, since the latter generated revenue (a paltry £322) only because of the traffic to the website. Therefore, such traffic must have been influenced by the domain name. On this basis, Tyler had effectively taken unfair advantage of Ryanair’s rights in order to gain a financial advantage. "It is with some regret", stated the adjudicator, that the name would thus be forfeited.
However, Ryanair's victory celebrations did not last long, since the site has been moved to 'ihateryanair.org'.
Jeremy Philips, IP consultant to Olswang LLP, London
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