The Risks of Domain Squatting: Lessons from the Smartney Lawsuit

In the digital world, domain names play a vital role in establishing an online presence and identity. However, some individuals or entities engage in unfair practices by registering domain names similar to established trademarks with the intention of profiting from their resale.

This article focuses on a recent legal dispute between Oney Bank’s subsidiary, Smartney, and a respondent, Liu Fen, involving the domain name Let’s delve into the case to understand the implications of domain squatting and how it affects legitimate trademark owners.


Oney Bank is a French bank known for consumer credit, electronic payments, and payment card management. In 2018, Oney Bank created its subsidiary, Smartney, which provides customers with convenient and technologically advanced borrowing options. To protect its brand, Smartney registered the SMARTNEY trademark both as a wordmark and a figurative mark with the EUIPO (European Union Intellectual Property Office).

The Dispute

On November 23, 2022, the respondent, Liu Fen, registered the domain name Subsequently, the domain name resolved to a parking page, indicating it was up for sale. This action prompted Oney Bank to issue a cease and desist letter to Liu Fen on February 23, 2023, requesting the transfer of the domain name to them. Instead of complying, Liu Fen offered to sell the domain name to Oney Bank.

Suspension of Proceedings

During the legal proceedings, Liu Fen sent an informal email requesting a pause in the case to explore settlement talks. While the WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization) allows for suspensions to facilitate negotiations, Oney Bank rejected the suspension request due to Liu Fen’s lack of cooperation. Consequently, the proceedings continued.

The Ruling

The panelist, Mr. Piotr Nowaczyk, reviewed the evidence presented in the case and found that Liu Fen did not use the domain name for a bona fide offering of goods or services, nor did he make legitimate non-commercial use of it. Instead, the domain name was being offered for sale, indicating a potential intention to profit from its resale. Traditionally, registering a domain name for resale would not necessarily be considered bad faith. However, specific circumstances in this case led the panel to rule in favor of Oney Bank.

The panel considered several factors, including the domain name’s complete incorporation of the SMARTNEY trademark, the trademark’s distinctiveness, Liu Fen’s lack of credible evidence for registering the domain, and the provision of questionable registrant contact details. These elements pointed to bad-faith registration with the intent to sell the domain name to Oney Bank.


The case of Smartney vs. Domain Squatting highlights the importance of protecting trademarks and domain names from abusive practices like domain squatting. Companies like Oney Bank invest time and resources in establishing their brand identities, and domain squatting can undermine their online presence and reputation. This ruling emphasizes the need for a fair and ethical approach to domain name registration, respecting the rights of legitimate trademark owners.

As technology continues to evolve, it becomes increasingly crucial for businesses to safeguard their intellectual property and take appropriate legal action against those attempting to exploit their brand recognition through unfair domain practices.

Read the dispute in detail here:


  1. Olivia Schmidt Avatar
    Olivia Schmidt

    The recent Smartney vs. Domain Squatting case highlights the importance of protecting trademarks and domain names in the digital age. It shows how unethical practices like domain squatting can harm businesses, like Oney Bank, by exploiting their brand recognition.

    In today’s fast-changing technology-driven world, having a strong online presence is crucial for businesses to connect with customers and build trust. To safeguard their brand identities, companies must take proactive steps to protect their intellectual property.

    The ruling emphasizes the need for fair and ethical domain registration practices. It sends a clear message that abusive practices will not be tolerated, and legal action will be taken against those who try to undermine established brands.

    To navigate the online landscape effectively, businesses should monitor their trademarks and respond promptly to any cases of domain squatting. Staying vigilant and taking appropriate legal action are essential to preserve brand reputation and digital assets.

    The Smartney case reminds us of the importance of safeguarding intellectual property in the digital world. By respecting trademarks and adopting fair domain practices, we can create a more trustworthy online environment for everyone.

  2. David Blake Avatar
    David Blake

    The Smartney lawsuit underscores the perils of domain squatting. It emphasizes the importance of ethical domain acquisition to avoid legal entanglements. Businesses should heed this cautionary tale, prioritizing legitimate ownership to safeguard their reputation and resources.

  3. Olivia Schmidt Avatar
    Olivia Schmidt

    The Smartney vs. Domain Squatting case highlights the need to protect trademarks from unfair practices like domain squatting. Companies invest heavily in their brands, and this ruling emphasizes the importance of ethical domain registration to maintain online reputation. As technology evolves, safeguarding intellectual property becomes crucial for businesses. Fair rules ensure a strong, reputable online presence.

  4. Gurbani Kaur Avatar
    Gurbani Kaur

    Ethical domain acquisition is crucial to prevent domain squatting as it can further lead to reducing credibility and brand image.

  5. Zoe Martin Avatar
    Zoe Martin

    The Smartney vs. Domain Squatting case underscores the trademark protection necessity. Brands like Oney Bank invest significantly in their identity, and squatting harms online presence. Fair domain registration is vital, respecting trademark owners. In a tech-evolving world, safeguarding intellectual property is key for businesses to counter unfair domain tactics.

  6. Richard Wilson Avatar
    Richard Wilson

    Domain squatting is a growing issue where individuals register domain names resembling established trademarks, aiming to profit from their resale. A recent case involves Oney Bank’s subsidiary, Smartney, and Liu Fen, over the domain name This dispute underscores the impact of domain squatting on legitimate trademark owners, highlighting the need for stronger protections against such unfair practices.

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