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Sportingbet loses domain squat case

Discussion in 'Casino Industry Discussion' started by jetset, Jan 12, 2007.

    Jan 12, 2007
  1. jetset

    jetset RIP Brian CAG

    Senior Partner, InfoPowa News Service

    Second time unlucky for British online sportsbook

    Online betting firm Sportingbet's long tussle with a Canadian company that has registered the domain "Sportingbet.net" ended in failure this week in the second setback of this nature experienced by the company, which had earlier tried to force the surrender of the domain "Sportingbet.biz."

    Working through its subsidiary Internet Opportunity Entertainment, Sportingbet took the Canadian company Zubee.com Networks before the World Intellectual Property Organisation's Arbitration and Mediation Centre, claiming that the company had no legitimate interest in the domain and that it was acting in bad faith in registering and holding on to it.

    The publication Out-law reports that Zubee alleged that the British sportsbetting company had tried to negotiate a sale of the domain names but that the two companies had been unable to agree on a price, and that this was the real reason for the dispute.

    Out-law recalls a previous domain scrap by the two companies over the domain names at another domain dispute forum, the Asian Domain Name Dispute Resolution Centre (ADNDRC), which found in Zubee's favour because it said that Sportingbet had not proven its rights to the name.

    The WIPO panel offered an almost identical judgment, and Zubee will keep the name.

    In order to gain control of a domain name from someone else, a company has to prove that it is identical or confusingly similar to one of its trade marks, that it has rights or legitimate interests in the name and that the other party does not, and that the other party acted in bad faith in regard to the domain.

    The panel found that Sportingbet had relevant trade marks and that they were identical or confusingly similar to Zubee's domain names. Though the trade marks were registered after the domain names, the panellist, Peter Nitter, said that this was not relevant.

    Out-law explains that in the case of rights or legitimate interests, there is a complicated procedure relating to proof. Sportingbet had to prove to a small degree that Zubee had no rights or legitimate interests in the domains. A heavier burden of proof then transfers to Zubee who must rebut those claims and prove it has a legitimate interest in the domains.

    "In the present case, the Panel finds that the Complainant [Sportingbet] has not made a prima facie showing that Respondent [Zubee] does not have rights or legitimate interests in the domain names," said Nitter. "The Panel notes that Complainant has not presented any evidence of its rights in the trademark 'Sportingbet' at the time of the registration of the contested domain names sportingbet.net and sportingbets.biz."

    Because Sportingbet had failed one of the three tests it was not necessary to then rule on the issue of bad faith, since Zubee was by then permitted to keep the domains, Nitter said. The panel said that the failure to establish rights was also the reason that Sportingbet had lost its previous ADNDRC case.

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