UDRP complaint for adrianpeterson.com denied at NAF – legal counsel fails to file a proper complaint

The Complainant was Adrian Lewis Peterson, an American football running back for the Minnesota Vikings and the National Football League, was represented by D. George Brode of Gant & Hicks, PLLC, Texas, USA. Respondent was stated as AdrianPeterson.com from Florida, USA.

The Complaint was submitted to the National Arbitration Forum on August 2, 2012. Respondent failed to submit a Response in this proceeding.

Before I get into the decision itself I have to say that the legal counsel of the Complainant did very poor job. It is obvious that they had no experience in domain name arbitration and they didn’t make any effort at all. There are 2 things that are somewhat remarkable.

Firstly, the Complainant originally requested that the domain name be canceled but by way of Additional Submissions made on August 31, 2012, asked instead that the domain name be transferred to it. That is 4 days after the deadline for the Response and a day after the National Arbitration Forum appointed Debrett G. Lyons as Panelist. Who pays all that money for the lawyers and arbitration fees only to have the domain name, that is his name, canceled? I guess the legal counsel was only interested in charging the client and not doing much work or have any meaningful result.

Secondly, even the Panel noted that the Complaint was very brief. Those passages from the Complaint relevant to the decision are quoted directly hereunder.

“Complainant is a player/employee for the Minnesota Vikings and National Football League (see Exhibit A).”

“Respondent has registered the domain name with GODADDY.COM. Such registration constitutes bad faith in the following respects: First, the Respondent has intentionally registered the domain name of the Complainant in order to prevent the Complainant from utilizing his own image. Second, Respondent has registered the domain name primarily for the purpose of disrupting Complainant’s business and ability to utilize his own image and celebrity status.”

The Panel also notes that “although Complainant is professionally represented and the Complaint was prepared by those representatives, there is very little in the Complaint to link it to the requirements” of the UDRP.

The Panel then went on and found that the first element of the UDRP (Identical and/or Confusingly Similar) was not satisfied so the Complaint was denied:

In this case, the Complaint does not explicitly indicate the trademark in which rights are claimed. There is no proof of registered rights and there is none of the normal indicia of use and reputation of a name that might give rise to common law rights.

Complainant ostensibly claims rights in the ADRIAN PETERSON name but has provided no evidence with respect to use of that name as a trademark in commerce or otherwise for any period of time. Complainant has provided by way of Exhibit A to the Complaint a screenshot of its football player profile page from <nfl.com> however that alone does not establish continuous use of a mark in commerce for any period of time.

Numerous earlier decisions of panels applying this part of the Policy have underscored the requirements to show common law trademark rights in a personal name. The criteria laid down in those decisions are not addressed by the Complaint before this Panel.

I must note that the registration date of the domain name adrianpeterson.com is not mentioned in the decision. The registration date of the domain is 12th of June 2003. Adrian Peterson was a junior in high school at the time. So it is unlikely that the Respondent was targeting the Complainant. If he was, then Respondent should become a scouter! And even if Respondent was targeting the Complainant at that time, the Complaint would also have failed in the third element of the UDRP. There is no way that Complainant could prove that Respondent registered the domain name in bad faith when Complainant was completely unknown.

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About Konstantinos Zournas

Konstantinos studied Computer Engineering and Computer Science in London and lives in Athens, Greece. He works on domain names, websites and software development. Has been online since 1995 & domaining since 2002.

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