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September 23, 2010 / Nate Harris

Bridgepoints Education, Inc. v. The Tings Dotcom Sdn Bhd

Summary of Bridgepoint Education, Inc. and Ashford Univ., LLC v. The Tings DotCom Sdn Bhd and I H Ting
(Nat. Arb. Forum Claim No. 1339726)

Filed: August 6, 2010; Decided: September 20, 2010 (Panelist: James A. Carmody, Esq.)

Disputed Domain Name: <ashford.net>

ashford.net

ashford.net

The Parties

Complainant Ashford University, LLC (“Ashford”) is the exclusive licensee of Complainant Bridgewater Education, Inc.’s ASHFORD and ASHFORD UNIVERSITY marks., which were applied for on January 2, 2o05 and which issued on April 17, 2007 and March 20, 2007, respectively. Since 2005, Ashford has provided educational services at the post-secondary and graduate levels.

The Respondents the Tings DotCom Sdn Bhd and I H Ting (“Ting”) did not respond to the complaint. Ting registered the disputed domain name on February 5, 2000. At the time of the complaint, the disputed domain resolved to a third-party website that advertised itself for sale and contained links to both Ashford and its competitors.

Procedural

The Panel finds that there is enough evidence to consider the two Complainants as one entity for the purposes of Supplemental Rule 1(e).

Identical or Confusingly Similar

The Panel finds that Ashford has established rights in its ASHFORD mark dating back to January 2, 2005. Thus, discounting the gTLD “.net”, the disputed domain is identical to Ashford’s mark.

Rights or Legitimate Interests

The WHOIS information for the disputed domain name demonstrates that Ting is not known by the disputed domain name. Furthermore, the links to Ashford’s competitors are “presumably for financial gain,” and therefore do not constitute a bona fide offering of goods or services, or a legitimate or non-commercial fair use.

Therefore, Ting has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain.

Bad Faith

The disputed domain name was registered in 2000, years before Ashford began using the name and mark ASHFORD. Therefore, registration in bad faith would have been impossible.

Decision

Because Ashford fails to prove bad faith registration, relief shall be DENIED.

Commentary

This was a pretty straightforward decision. Before spending the money on a UDRP complaint, it’s worth looking into whether the domain you’re trying to recover was registered, say, five years before you had trademark rights in your mark. Though a few panels have apparently abandoned the dual requirement of bad faith registration and bad faith use, most still adhere to it. See RapidShare AG and Christian Schmid v. Ilya Efimov (WIPO Case No. D2010-1105) (blogged here) for a discussion of the differing approaches.

Epilogue

<www.ashford.net> still points to a click-through page hosting links to Ashford’s competitors, but there don’t appear to be any links to Ashford. Also, the “this domain may be for sale!” notice has been removed.

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