The Huffington Post recently won a UDRP decision against the Huffington Post Union of Bloggers which is presently occupying the domain www.huffingtonpostunionofbloggers.org. The arbitrator’s decision is noteworthy first for its brevity, even though the submissions on both sides seem to have been pretty substantial (and included additional submissions and arguments), and second, for the fact that the dispute over the domain seems secondary to the apparent trademark infringement and unfair competition that will seemingly live on past the lifecycle of the domain name.
There were some interesting facts in the case that the arbitrator summarily touched on but failed to explain in any detail – like for instance the fact that the site itself does seem to have a certain “gripe” function (as it rails against the Huffington Post in several prominently feature pieces on the homepage) that in many cases could justify registering a domain with a known brand or mark. Second, the Respondent appears to have made the argument that it is registered as a non-profit with the State of Nevada and therefore is somehow cleared to use the name “Huffington Post Union of Bloggers” – but this argument is not relevant to the domain name dispute and there is no substantive discussion of why a simple ex parte state registration does not come with the right to register a domain name which includes another company’s trademark. Lastly there is no actual “trade union” in the case (although the decision is not clear about the alleged “union’s” status) involved in the case to support a claim that the Respondent has some legitimate basis to use the name in order to organize its members as a “union.”
A quick look at the Responden’t site reveals that it looks remarkably like the Huffington Post’s website, uses the “Huffington Post” name on its homepage/masthead, and is clearly attempting to identify itself as an alternative/competitor to the Huffington Post.
Overall, it’s not the least bit surprising that the arbitrator decided that the domain name should be transferred to the Complainant, but I wonder if there has been a companion action brought in Federal Court to enjoin the Respondent from continuing to use the Huffington Post name and mark? Given the nature of the use, and the fact that it extends beyond the simple use of the mark in the domain name itself, it seems strange that the Huffington Post would not attempt to stop it from the get-go through injunctive relief.
In all events, it will be interesting to see if the decision will be appealed and the matter is further litigated in federal court. As of this writing the “union” had switched domains to www.hpub.com but was still using the HUFFINGTON POST mark in its masthead...