ORG FILED A CASE IN WIPO EVEN WHEN, IT HAD NEVER REGISTERED THE DOMAIN

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The World Intellectual Property Organization saw an interesting case, where a lapsed domain name was registered by some other entity. The former and new owners were contesting there for the domain name Libertas.org.

The complainant was an activist organization. It claimed to be the representative of the rights of people and many social causes. It presented a pending intent to use a trademark application for the mark LIBERTAS, and got the approval for the same in its European counterpart based on this application. It said it owned the domain name Libertas.org, which lapsed because of staff shortage in the pandemic. 

Respondent was ‘Libertas Institute’, a not-for-profit organization. It owns the US trademarks for ‘LIBERTAS INSTITUTE’. It used to operate on the domain name LibertasUtah.com. However, now it has made Libertas.org its primary domain name.

The panel ruled that the Respondent, for a decade, has been operating a company whose name has a direct relation with the domain name in question. It also owns related trademarks. The court also noted that the registration of the domain name by the Respondent wasn’t opportunistic. There was a substantial time gap between lapse of domain name by the Complainant and registration of domain name by the Respondent. In fact Libertas.org exchanged hands between a few third parties in between. The panel also found that the Complainant never actually even had registered the domain name in the first place. It was their law firms who had registered it.

The court denied the relief to the Complainant and awarded a RDNH instead. You can read the case in detail here.

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