Who should Thermomix Indonesia go to: Manufacturer or Distributor?

The UDRP process has established a procedure that is able to evaluate the merit of a case through the fulfillment of certain criterias. However, there always remains a window for anomalies. And whenever they arrive the decision related to them becomes some sort of law that would dictate similar cases in the future. 

A question arrives in domain name dispute as to the nature of arbitration, when the parties to a case had business relations in the past. Such as one being a manufacturer while the other being a distributor. Whom to choose from, in such a scenario? 

Vorwerk International AG is a Swedish family enterprise. Among several of its products, there is also the inclusion of the product called THERMOMIX. The company has been selling the product since 1970. The Company filed a complaint in WIPO regarding the use of the domain name ThermomixIndonesia.com.

The Respondent presents to be the exclusive distributor of the product in Indonesia and that also for an indefinite period of time. The domain name was registered and used for the same distribution purpose. The Complainant allowed the registration because it had the domain thermomix.co.id for itself. 

Due to difficulties involving import of the product, the Respondent stopped importing related products. However, after this disengagement, the Complainant didn’t ask to purchase leftover stocks. The Respondent had been using the domain name for the sale of those leftover products. 

The panel found that this relation between the Complainant and the Respondent wasn’t presented by the Complainant. The Complainant even went to disclaim the products for sale on the domain name. The Respondent presents a claim to support the relation with the Complainant through legal documents and transactions. 

The panel referred to the case of Oki Data Americas, Inc. v. ASD, Inc. Referring to the case the panel pointed out that when a reseller or distributor uses domain names that contain trademarks related to the Complainant goods, it can be a bona fide offering of products and service and hence considered legitimate. 

Based on these grounds the Complaint was denied.

You can read the full case here.


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