Lake Worth loses UDRP case to resident

International

In City of Lake Worth v John C Becker Inc, the city of Lake Worth has failed to convince World Intellectual Property Organization panellist Dennis A Foster of its entitlement to the domain name 'LakeWorthCity.com' in a complaint filed under the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP).

The city of Lake Worth, Florida uses the domain name 'LakeWorth.org' to host its official website to provide information on city services, tourist attractions and other civic activities. John Becker, a Lake Worth resident, operates a computer consulting and support business. He created 'LakeWorthCity.com' as an informational website to help promote interest in Lake Worth merchants and attractions, as well as services offered by the city of Lake Worth.

Foster found that (i) the city had failed to establish trademark rights in its name, and (ii) geographic names are not protected under the UDRP, which is also the position under US federal trademark law. Accordingly, he refused to order the transfer of the disputed domain name to the city.

The decision is in line with the majority of UDRP cases involving domain names that are identical to the names of cities and municipal governments (see for instance the Brisbane City Case)

For a discussion of a contrary decision in a case involving a city name, see German city secures multiple domain names.

James L Bikoff and Patrick L Jones, Silverberg Goldman & Bikoff, Washington DC

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