Domain Name News
ONE MAN'S MEAT IS ANOTHER MAN'S DOMAIN NAME
26th November, 2003
A recent WIPO UDRP case, Meat and Livestock Commission v David Pearce again illustrates the need for owners of registered trade marks to maintain a portfolio of blocking domain names, so as to prevent protesters from registering domains close to the principal name. On the other hand, depending on your point of view, the decision also stands as a victory for freedom of speech.
The complainants are a UK public body funded by the British meat industry, having a duty to advertise British meat in the UK. The Respondent is the operator of a web site which is critical of the meat industry. He had registered the domains britishmeat.com and britishmeat.org and had pointed these to his web site. Among other links on the site, the Respondent had used the terms 'British Meat: the recipe for BSE' and 'British Meat: the recipe for cancer'. These seemed to parody the complainants' UK advertising campaign slogan 'British Meat: The Recipe for Love'.
While the complainants could show that they had used BRITISH MEAT as an unregistered trade mark since about 1977 and a registered trade mark since 1997, the WIPO panellist found that the term BRITISH MEAT had not itself become distinctive of their organisation. He added:
The Panel is not satisfied on the evidence as a whole that the Domain Names are confusingly similar to any marks in which the Complainant has rights. Given that the term "British meat" is the normal and natural term to describe meat produced in Britain, the Panel is not satisfied that the Domain Names would be regarded by Internet users as indicating a website of the Complainant.
Details at: http://www.demys.net/news/2003/11/26_meat.htm