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Domain Name Going "South"

The Complainant, Viacom International, Inc., owns trademark registrations in the service mark and trademark "SOUTH PARK", which it has used in connection with various forms of entertainment and related apparel since as early as July 1997.  The marks have been used in connection with an animated television show called "South Park" and Complainant maintains "the official South Park web site" at
www.southparkstudios.com.  The television show has several cartoon characters, including "Stan" and "Mr. Marsh", who is identified as Stan's father.

On March 22, 2007, the Respondent registered the disputed domain name, "stansdad.com", which resolves to a web site in which a cartoon character's face corresponding to Mr. Marsh appears in the place of the "O" in ".COM".  The website contains episodes of the television show South Park (including two copyrighted episodes) and the tagline "W-W-WATCH SOUTH PARK ONLINE FREE!".  The website contains prominent disclaimers identifying the Complainant as the owner of the trademark and copyrighted material and expressly disassociates the disputed domain name with the Complainant.

Denying Viacom's complaint, the Panel pointed out that the UDRP was designed to deal with the problem of cybersquatting.  The disputed domain is clearly not confusingly similar to any trademarks or service marks asserted by Viacom, as "stansdad.com" is not even remotely similar to "South Park".  Instead, Viacom's concerns were not really directed towards the particular domain name itself but, rather, what was occurring on Respondent's website.  While the Panel recognized that Viacom's concerns may be legitimate and perhaps entitled to legal redress, the UDRP is simply not the vehicle to provide that redress.  Here, Viacom was really asserting possible claims of copyright infringement, which goes beyond the purview of the issues that the UDRP was designed to redress and should have been brought in a more traditional legal proceeding.


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