It took a law professor to met out some rough justice in a recent domain name dispute. In the case of Global Village Publishing, Inc. v. chenwen, Professor Darryl C. Wilson of Stetson University College of Law in Gulfport, Florida, ordered the three-letter domain name, GVP.COM to the Complainant, even though the Complainant only had a trademark for GVPI.
National Arbitration Forum UDRP Panelist, Professor Darryl C. Wilson
Nevertheless, Panels can and do use the UDRP to address Complaints based upon theft. It is possible, sometimes with some minor intellectual gymnastics, to frame the unlawful registration of a domain name acquired through theft, in terms of the required prerequisite elements of the UDRP, namely; a) the domain name corresponds to the Complainant's trademark; b) the registrant has no legitimate interest in the domain name; and c) the domain name was registered and used in bad faith. This is precisely what the Panelist in this case was able to do.
In a hotly contested domain name dispute where the Respondent actually responds, the fact that a Complainant's trademark is only GVPI and the domain name is GVP.COM, may be more than enough to find that the Complainant does not even have sufficient trademark rights to win a UDRP dispute. But where a Respondent does not even respond and a Complainant makes allegations of theft of the domain name, it is possible for a panelist to overlook that distinction, and instead find, as the Panelist did in this case, that the trademark and the domain name were sufficiently confusingly similar, even, remarkably, where the Complainant failed to even make this crucial argument itself.
As can be seen from the above, the Panelist went out of his way to help out this Complainant, and did so apparently, to met out some justice, which was arguably appropriate in the circumstances, rather than parochially follow a very narrow interpretation of the UDRP and case law. And that, is how there can be justice instead of mere law in the UDRP.
Critics of a liberal interpretation and application of the UDRP will justifiably have cause for concern in harnessing the UDRP for a purpose for which it was not intended, but on the other hand, where a Respondent does not respond, and where a Complainant has made out a case based upon credible evidence that can be matched with the three required prongs of the UDRP, an equally persuasive argument may exist that where there is no harm, there is no foul, and justice is the true end of the law, not merely the means.