No bad faith where first word in domain name signaled Respondent’s intention to target parties other than Complainant

In the case of AXA SA v. Discover Domains, a WIPO Panel denied the Complainant’s efforts to have the domain name transferred because the Complainant failed to demonstrate the disputed domain name was used and registered in bad faith.

The Complainant provides business, insurance, financial and communications services, and first used its registered mark AXA in 1985. The Respondent used the disputed domain name to establish a website which, according to the Complainant’s evidence, featured pay-per-click links to offers of financial services, including the Complainant’s services.

The Panel found that the Complainant’s evidence of bad faith registration and use of the disputed domain name was simply too “slender”.

Prompted by what the Panel believed to be the “inherent improbability* of any Internet user starting with the word ‘dating’ in a search for the Complainant as a provider of insurance financial services only,” the Panel conducted its own search of the disputed domain name and observed something different than the evidence the Complainant submitted, namely, the Panel observed that all the PPC links on the Respondent’s website referred to dating services.

The Panel went on to conclude that use of the word “dating” as the first word in the disputed domain name showed a clear intention of the Respondent to target some activity entirely different than the Complainant’s provision of goods and servies. The Panel was also mindful of dating sites and which, in the Panel’s view, were more likely to have been the Respondent’s intended targets.

* The Panel’s decision used the word “probability” here, but one can only conclude that to be a typo, as the only sensible reading of the sentence requires the sentence to be “improbability”.

AXA SA v. Discover Domains, WIPO Case No. D2016-0033 (March 7, 2016)

Evan_BrownAbout the Author: Evan Brown is a Chicago technology and intellectual property attorney helping clients with a wide variety of issues, including domain name disputes under the UDRP. Call him at (630) 362-7237, send email to ebrown [at], or follow him on Twitter @internetcases.¬†Read Evan’s other blog, internetcases, for more information about general internet law.