Chess legend Gary Kasparov will be running in 2014 to be the new head of the World Chess Federation (FIDE). Not everyone in the chess world is happy about this and oppose his candidacy. Mr. Kasparov brought a UDRP against one such person, Mr. Sevan Muradian, who had registered the domains kasparov2014.com, kasparov2014.info, kasparov2014.org, and kasparov2014.net.
Mr. Muradian argued that he registered the domains in order to use them as a platform to oppose Mr. Kasparov but the panel rejected this argument explaining that Mr. Muradian did not use any distinctive elements in addition to the KASPAROV mark that would indicate the site’s stated purpose – namely to oppose Mr. Kasparov as FIDE head – and that:
“[s]ince their registration, Respondent has had enough time to prepare and use the websites of the disputed domain names; notwithstanding, it has not use them or prove that it has been preparing them to be used.”
On the bad faith element the panel noted in an extremely conclusory fashion that:
“[m]oreover, Respondent has the capacity to create an anti-political/political satire website against an election campaign by Complainant for a position within the FIDE without using third parties trademarks in the domain names.”
The panel failed to explain how this might work, that there are situations where a mark can be used properly as part of a domain name for the purposes of “anti-political/political satire”, and that it is almost impossible not to use the KASPAROV name/mark in the domain name for a site opposing Mr. Kasparov as head of FIDE.
The decision highlights the tension between a “context” based approach to the use of marks in domain names versus a “strict” interpretation where any use of another’s mark is per se evidence of a lack of rights and bad faith.
For example, this article from 2007 posted at The Spoof discusses Mr. Kasparov’s “alleged” steroid use while he was World Champion. It is hard to imagine that a website with a domain name that mirrored this headline would not fall under the category of “political satire”...