Former US Representative from Texas Ron Paul has lost a domain dispute filed with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) to obtain the ronpaul.com domain name. The ronpaul.com domain name was held by a group of supporters of Ron Paul’s political views, which even offered to transfer the domain name to the former Representative for free. Instead, Ron Paul’s attorneys’ proceeded with the cybersquatting filing under the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy and used the offer to transfer the domain name as additional evidence in support of their claim.
Ultimately, the WIPO Panel found that the website’s “support and devotion to Ron Paul’s political ideals is a legitimate interest that does not require Complainant’s authorization or approval.” The Panel further found that the First Amendment is designed to protect exactly this sort of political speech and, therefore, the Panel was swayed that the respondent is making a legitimate noncommercial or fair use of the domain name. Unfortunately for Rep. Paul’s attorneys, the WIPO Panel found that Ron Paul engaged in reverse domain hijacking in proceeding with the domain dispute even after the group offered it to Paul for free:
Respondent has requested, based on the evidence presented, that the Panel make a finding of Reverse Domain Name Hijacking. In view of the unique facts of this case, in which the evidence demonstrates that Respondent offered to give the Domain Name to Complainant for no charge, with no strings attached, the Panel is inclined to agree. Instead of accepting the Domain Name, Complainant brought this proceeding. A finding of Reverse Domain Name Hijacking seems to this Panel to be appropriate in the circumstances.
This cybersquatting case evidences that a good domain dispute attorney not only understands the law, but also the political and public relations blowback that can result from an overly aggressive stance. If you seek advice on domain disputes, contact our cybersquatting lawyers today.