Senate candidate wins domain name from anti-abortion group

In Forrester v Planned Childhood Inc, National Arbitration Forum panellist Paul A Dorf has ordered the transfer of the domain name 'DougForrester.com' to Senate candidate Douglas Forrester.

Douglas Forrester was the Republican candidate for the US Senate in New Jersey during the 2002 election. He brought his case against Planned Childhood, an anti-abortion group that registered the domain name 'DougForrester.com' on October 1 2002, one day after incumbent Senator Robert Torricelli resigned from office and dropped out of his re-election campaign.

Although Forrester went on to lose the election, he contended in the complaint that he had acquired common law trademark rights in his name, and that Planned Childhood had violated those rights by registering and using 'DougForrester.com' to redirect internet visitors to its "politically charged website".

Because Planned Childhood failed to respond, Dorf read the complaint in the light most favourable to Forrester, finding that his uncontested allegations to have established common law rights in his name were sufficient to grant standing under the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy:

"The panel infers that [Planned Childhood]'s registration of a domain name that is identical to [Forrester]'s mark and that was registered immediately after a widely covered event in [Forrester]'s Senate campaign transpired is evidence that [Planned Childhood] had actual knowledge of [Forrester]'s rights in the 'Doug Forrester' mark when it chose to register the disputed domain name."

While a World Intellectual Property Organization panel rejected the same arguments last year in a contested case filed by Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, a candidate in the 2002 Maryland election for governor, Dorf found that 'DougForrester.com' had been registered and used in bad faith. Accordingly, he ordered the transfer of the domain name to Forrester.

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

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