Legal disputes can arise between any parties. Often, one of the parties involved in the disputes is the Government. Legal procedures, in principle, are said to remain neutral to the parties. But, we know the reality of the scheme of things. However, it is still helpful in gauging the effectiveness of the judicial ecosystem.
WIPO recently came across a domain name dispute, one of the parties of which was The French National Railway Company. This is a state owned public railway company operating in France. The company as the Complainant, complained against the owner of the domain name TER.com.
The Complainant argues that it had been operating a service named ‘TER’. The service is an acronym for Transport express régional. It also holds the French trademarks for the ‘TER’ mark since 1989. It is a public service that carries more than one million travelers daily and owns some 7,500 trains and 2,000 coaches. It contested that the domain name TER.com, resolved to a parking page with Railway related services.
The Respondent claimed that it invested on domain names for reselling. It registers and has registered several other 3-letter domain names. Such domain names have very high value in the domain name industry. The term TER also means ‘to have’ in Portuguese. This was another added value to the domain name investment.
The panel noted that the Complainant was not that popular outside France. It was thus impossible for the Respondent to be aware of the services and trademarks registered by the Complainant at the time of registration. The redirection to railways services was not permanent and shifted to other services as well. The court after seeing the merits of all sides decided to deny the Complaint.
Yes, a state owned public service lost domain name related to its service! You can read the full case here.