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November 17, 2010 / Nate Harris

University of North Dakota fumbles bid to recover undsports.com

Summary of University of North Dakota v. Private Whois Service c/o undsports.com
(Nat. Arb. Forum Claim No. 1350925)

Filed: October 7, 2010; Decided: November 16, 2010 (Panelist: Carolyn Marks John)

Disputed domain name: <undsports.com>

undsports.com

The Parties

Complainant University of North Dakota (“UND”) owns the exclusive right the the mark UND for collegiate sport-related activities. UND submitted evidence of a trademark registration for the mark with a priority date of March 29, 2006, and reciting a first use dating to 1980.

Respondent Private Whois Service c/o undsports.com, who did not respond, registered the disputed domain on July 23, 2003. UND failed to submit evidence of what the disputed domain was being use for.

Identity or Confusing Similarity

The Panel finds that UND’s trademark registrations establishes its rights in the mark UND. The disputed domain incorporates the mark, and includes the descriptive term “sports”. Therefore, the Panel finds the disputed domain is confusingly similar to UND’s mark.

Rights or Legitimate Interest

UND has failed to provide sufficient evidence, or even make a specific assertion, that Respondent has no rights or legitimate interest in the mark. Though UND was only required to make a prima facie showing, it failed to do so here.

Bad Faith

Respondent registered the disputed domain in 2003, which predates the 2006 priority date of the registration for the UND mark. Furthermore, UND failed to prove any common law rights in the mark that predate the registration of the disputed domain. Therefore, UND has failed to prove that the disputed domain was registered in bad faith.

Decision

The Panel concludes that relief shall be DENIED.

Commentary

Without having the opportunity to look at the complaint, it seems like UND really “dropped the ball” here, to use a sports metaphor. They failed to prove any common law rights in the UND mark (despite the fact that they claim use dating back to 1980), and failed to offer any evidence of Respondent’s lack of rights or legitimate interests, nor any evidence of how the disputed domain was being used.

Epilogue

<undsports.com> points to a pay-per-click webpage that has links to sports-related sites.

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