Brand owners naturally want to protect their good name and a recent case involving a domain name that was alleged to breach a trademark highlights the fact that brand owners don't always win.
The case was brought by Dolce & Gabbana against the registrant of dandg,com on the basis that the domain infringed its registered trademark of 'D&G'.
If the registrant had used a domain that featured 'DolceandGabbana' then they would have been on a hiding to nothing. However, the registrant hadn't and convinced the panel, convened under the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Panel, that it had a legitimate interest in the domain and won the case. The registrant said that it planned to open a business using the domain - evidence was provided in the form of a logo, stationery, Facebook and Twitter accounts and statements from potential customers.
The key lessons? Firstly, if you think you are cybersquatting, don't approach the brand owner seeking offers to buy the domain. It shows bad faith and is almost guaranteed to lose you the case. Secondly, if you do want to register a domain that might be questioned by the brand owner, try to have a legitimate business that is very distinct in activity to the brand owner.
This was first published in December 2010