TV2 finds favour in 'station2.dk' dispute

Denmark

In TV2/Danmark v DK Web Online ApS, a Danish Internet Forum (DIFO) panel has ordered the transfer of 'station2.dk' to the broadcaster TV2. The panel held that (i) it has the authority to hear disputes involving domain names registered prior to DIFO's creation, and (ii) DK's registration was in breach of Danish unfair competition law.

TV2, a Danish television network, produces and regularly broadcasts a police documentary series called 'Station 2', and has done so since 1993. TV2 filed a complaint with DIFO based on DK's registration and use of 'station2.dk' to host a website dedicated to the recovery of lost or stolen property. TV2 claimed that although it had not registered the name 'Station 2' as a trademark, DK's use of the domain name constituted unfair competition since it was trading on the reputation the television programme had built up over the previous 10 years. To back up its claim, TV2 produced evidence that during that time between one-fifth and one-sixth of the population of Denmark had watched Station 2.

DK registered 'station2.dk' on April 6 1999 and its website featured a disclaimer noting that it was not related to TV2's police documentary series. DK argued, among other things, that:

  • DIFO did not have the authority to adjudicate on domain names registered prior to its creation on February 22 2000;

  • its planned use for the domain name to host an international lost and found website in conjunction with its other registered domain name - 'lost-property.net' - was not similar to the content of TV2's television programme; and

  • the term 'Station 2' lacks distinctiveness.

The panel rejected DK's arguments and ordered the transfer of 'station2.dk'. It held that following the creation of DIFO, the rules governing the entire '.dk' domain space had changed to grant DIFO authority to hear domain name disputes, and that DK's act of renewing its domain name registration meant that it had accepted these changes. The panel acknowledged that DK's proposed use of 'station2.dk' seemed genuine but found that the registration was in contravention of Section 1 of the Danish Marketing Practices Act. It concluded that DK's choice of a term identical to TV2's well-known television programme, that had no relevance to the recovery of lost property, was intended to take unfair advantage of TV2's goodwill in the name 'Station 2'.

Peter Gustav Olson, Plesner Svane Grønborg, Copenhagen

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