The Asian Domain Name Dispute Resolution Center, in a one member UDRP decision rejected the attempt of the Hong Kong Trade Development Council to grab the generic domain name ALMC.com
The domain holder was represented by David E. Weslow of Wiley Rein LLP.
Here are the relevant facts and findings by the one member panel:
The Complainant is a statutory body corporate in Hong Kong, established in 1966 pursuant to the Hong Kong Trade Development Council Ordinance
Its functions include the promotion and development of Hong Kong’s trade.
The Complainant currently owns two trademarks. One trademark consisted of a “ALMC” logo together with the words “Asian Logistics and Maritime Conference” and its Chinese counterpart translation ” ¥HI ¥.m.&AA:il-t” “, and was registered on 17 April 2013 (the “First Trademark”).
The other trademark, which was pending registration at the time this dispute arose, subsequently became registered on 21 August 2013, and consisted ofthe letters “almc” and “ALMC” (the “Second Trademark”, and together with the First Trademark, the “Trademarks”).
The Respondent is a Canadian company engaged in the business of registering short generic non-trademark domain names and it profits by selling or renting such domain names. Correspondence between the parties indicated that the Respondent purchased the Disputed Domain Name by way of auction on 18 September 2012.
The Disputed Domain Name was registered on September 15th 2012.
The Panel is prepared to find that the Respondent’s use of the Disputed Domain Name and its underlying website to offer to sell or lease domain names constitute legitimate use under the Policy.
There is nothing in the Policy or in current ICANN registrar registration agreements which prohibits the registration of domain names incorporating common words, generic terms, short terms, and useful phrases for the purpose of paid advertising.
The Panel accordingly finds that the Complainant has not satisfied paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy in respect of the Disputed Domain Name.
While it is not necessary for the Panel to discuss the Complaint further, the Panel would also note that the Respondent has not acted in bad faith when registering or using the Disputed Domain Name.
The registration of the Disputed Domain Name predates the registration of the Trademarks and considering that the Disputed Domain Name is generic, therefore the question of bad faith registration must be answered negatively.
While registering a domain name for the purpose of selling or renting it may be a legitimate business, it would be considered bad faith under paragrapgh 4(b)(i) ofthe Policy if the primary purpose was to sell or rent it to the trademark owner.
The Panel notes that the Respondent did not contact the Complainant prior to the Complaint and has offered to sell the Disputed Domain Name at a discount (compared to the auction price) only when upon receipt ofNotice of Complaint from the Centre. Having considered the circumstances and the relevant correspondence, the Panel finds that the offer made by the Respondent is not in bad faith.
It would also be considered bad faith if the use of a domain name creates a likelihood of confusion with the complainant’s trademark as to source, sponsorship, affiliation, or endorsement under paragraph 4(b)(iv) of the Policy.
The Panel finds that the letters “ALMC” does not solely indicate affiliation with the Conference.
An Internet search shows that “ALMC” could be related to many other corporations, institutions or bodies around the world.
While it may be possible that the letters “ALMC” may cause the customers or exhibitors who attended the Conference in Hong Kong to associate it with the Complainant or the Conference, it is certainly not the case outside of Hong Kong. Therefore, having considered earlier the legitimate use by the Respondent, the Panel does not find any bad faith in the use of the Disputed Domain Name.
The Complainant has failed to meet its burden to establish all of the elements in the Complaint.
The Complaint is dismissed.