Language of proceedings need not be language of registration

International

In Groupe Industriel Marcel Dassault v Park, World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) panellist Thomas P Pinansky has issued an important interpretation of Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP) Rule 11, which governs the language of proceedings, finding in the case at hand that the proceeding should be in English, even though the respondent was Korean and the registration agreement for the domain name was in Korean.

Rule 11 provides:

"Unless otherwise agreed by the parties, or specified otherwise in the registration agreement, the language of the administrative proceeding shall be the language of the registration agreement, subject to the authority of the panel to determine otherwise, having regard to the circumstances of the administrative proceeding."

In addition, a panel "may order that any documents submitted in languages other than the language of the administrative proceeding be accompanied by a translation in whole or in part into the language of the administrative proceeding".

When French aviation company Dassault filed a complaint against Korean individual Minwoo Park after discovering that Park had registered the domain name 'Dassault.com' with Korean registrar Hangang Systems, Pinansky decided that the language of the proceeding should be English, because "the [...] proceeding would be unduly delayed and [Dassault] would have to incur substantial expenses for translation" if required to submit its complaint and other documents in Korean.

Under Pinansky's interpretation, "the spirit of [Rule] 11 is to ensure fairness in the selection of language by giving full consideration to the parties' level of comfort with each language, the expenses to be incurred and the possibility of delay in the proceeding in the event translations are required and other relevant factors". Pinansky found that because Park had little difficulty communicating with Dassault and the panel in English, the language of the proceeding should be English instead of Korean. Pinansky also agreed to consider documents submitted by Park in Korean as part of the record of the proceeding.

Once the language of the proceeding was settled, Pinansky found that Dassault had satisfied all three requirements for transfer in Paragraph 4 of the UDRP, because:

  • the domain name was identical to its DASSAULT trademark;

  • Park had no rights or legitimate interests in the domain name; and

  • the domain name had been registered and used in bad faith.

The decision is an important one for future complainants who may be faced with a registrant located in Korea or another non-English speaking nation. Under this decision, panellists may allow the proceeding to take place in a language different to that used by the registrant to obtain the domain name. This may save complainants the substantial expense of having a complaint translated into another language.

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

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