Even Trademark Associations Have Domain Name Problems

The International Trademark Association (INTA) has won a decision under the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP) for the domain name <inta2018.org>.

According to the UDRP decision, INTA contended that the domain name was being used in connection with a website that said, "INTA International Trademark Association 140th Annual Meeting" and contained information about the meeting, including a "Housing Request" form.

About INTA

INTA's 2018 annual meeting is being held in Seattle. The organization's 2017 meeting, in Barcelona, attracted more than 10,000 attendees, the largest ever.

INTA, founded in 1878, describes itself as "a global association of brand owners and professionals dedicated to supporting trademarks and related intellectual property." Its members represent 31,000 trademark professionals from 187 countries.

As a trademark attorney, I have been a member of INTA for many years. Although I don't regularly attend the annual meetings, I know that getting a hotel room is often a challenge because of the meeting size, with registrants rushing to book rooms in preferred hotels or find other convenient and reasonable choices.

So, a website that offers registrants information about hotels could be a welcome resource. Unfortunately for the registrant of the domain name <inta2018.org>, using a trademark owned by a trademark organization in the domain name obviously was not something that INTA wanted to tolerate.

A Simple Decision

As far as UDRP cases are concerned, the decision for <inta2018.org> was very straightforward.

The decision states that the domain name was originally registered through a privacy service, but apparently the registrant's name was updated during the proceeding, because the respondent is now listed as (suspiciously) "roddi dowpharma." (See "What Barack Obama Taught Us About Cybersquatting.")

On the UDRP's three elements, the panel found:

  1. The domain name <inta2018.org> was confusingly similar to INTA's own trademark registration for INTA, because the year "2018" in the domain name did "not substantially distinguish the domain name from Complainant's mark."
  2. By using the domain name "to attract Internet users to a website that appears to be associated with or authorized by Complainant but that markets hotel accommodations in competition with Complainant," the registrant could not establish rights or legitimate interests.
  3. The domain name was registered and is being used in bad faith because it "incorporates Complainant's trademark for a website that appears to be associated with or authorized by Complainant, and that solicits hotel bookings in competition with Complainant."

Interestingly, the UDRP decision was published on or close to the date on which INTA opened the registration process for its 2018 annual meeting, and the website associated with the domain name appears to have been taken down even before the UDRP decision was implemented. As a result, it seems that INTA accomplished its intended result, quickly eliminating a website that could have caused confusion for its own members.

The case -- apparently the first UDRP ever filed by INTA -- shows that no one is immune from being a target of cybersquatting. (As I wrote before, "Even Lawyers Have Domain Name Problems.")

Perhaps the decision will even encourage INTA's own members -- many of which are themselves trademark owners of all sizes -- to become more aggressive about pursuing cybersquatters through the UDRP.