Untying the Knot...Domain Name Style
The Knot, Inc. runs a well-known wedding information website trading under the name "The Knot". Ali Aziz of Pakistan registered the domain name "myknot.com" and provided click through links to other competing websites providing information on wedding preparations. The Knot brought a WIPO proceeding seeking transfer of the "myknot.com" domain, based upon allegations that the disputed domain name was confusingly similar to its common law rights and trademark applications for MY KNOT. Mr. Aziz failed to respond to The Knot's allegations.
The request for transfer was denied by a majority vote of the presiding panel, with a dissenting opinion. Significant to the transfer denial was the panel's noting that the Complainant waited 6 years from the date on which Mr. Aziz registered "myknot.com" before initiating UDRP proceedings for its transfer. In so noting, the panel held this a question of lack of clear evidence of bad faith intent at the time of registration of the disputed domain or the use that was made of it over the past 6 years. Although the domain was currently used for the purpose of click-through links, the panel would not infer under the circumstances that Mr. Aziz registered the domain 6 years earlier for the purpose of targeting the Complainant. In a dissenting opinion, it was held that bad faith could be inferred based upon the fact that Mr. Aziz was using the domain to provide a directory of competing vendors and service providers for wedding related products and services from all over the world, confusingly similar to the Complainant's. The dissent further held it highly likely that the disputed domain was registered to disrupt the business of the Complainant by directing consumers to competing websites, for the purpose of commercial gain, given that Mr. Aziz was not known by the disputed domain name and had no legitimate rights therein.