Are UDRP panelists paid for doing nothing?

If the Panelist had made a 5 minute research, she would have find that Respondent had “Rights or Legitimate Interests” and would have dismissed the Complaint. She didn’t do anything.

A Complaint for the domain name damesmagazine.com was submitted to the National Arbitration Forum on July 27, 2012 by Dame Media, LLC from California.

Respondent, D.A.M.E.S. Magazine LLC from Connecticut, registered the domain name  damesmagazine.com on November 11, 2011.

Respondent failed to submit a Response in this proceeding so the Panelist did nothing more than find in favor of the Complainant without even wondering why for instance Respondent’s name was D.A.M.E.S. Magazine LLC. She said that in view of Respondent’s failure to submit a response, the Panel shall decide this administrative proceeding on the basis of Complainant’s undisputed representations and draw such inferences it considers appropriate. She said that the Panel is entitled to accept all reasonable allegations and inferences set forth in the Complaint as true unless the evidence is clearly contradictory and cited two UDRP decisions from the year 2000 that is ancient history in terms of the UDRP. So she just said that in case of a default Panelists are allowed to rule whatever they want and be done with it. Well done. Check is in the mail.

The Panelist found in favor of the Complainant in the first element of the UDRP because  Complainant had 2 trademarks, DAME MAGAZINE and DAME, registered with the USPTO. Fair enough.

She then mentioned that the WHOIS information related to the disputed domain name identifies “D.A.M.E.S. Magazine LLC” as the registrant. She quickly brushed this off by saying that there was no further evidence on the record that demonstrated that the respondent was commonly known by the disputed domain name. The Panel found that, although the Respondent registered the damesmagazine.com domain name under the name “D.A.M.E.S. Magazine LLC,” Respondent is not commonly known by the disputed domain name under Policy 4(c)(ii) due to the lack of any supporting evidence. We’ll see about that later.

Finally the Panelist agreed with the Complainant that said that Respondent’s registration and use of the damesmagazine.com domain name was in bad faith because Respondent intentionally designed the website at the disputed domain to confuse and mislead customers away from Complainant’s website to its competing services.

OK. Now let’s do a 5 minute internet research about this case.

First of all a simple search at the Secretary of the State of Connecticut would reveal that there is actually a company at Hartford, Connecticut named D.A.M.E.S LLC. The address in whois is East  Hartford, Connecticut. The company was registered in Aug 29, 2011. That is about 2.5 months before the domain was registered. That makes sense unless the Panelist thinks that there was some conspiracy from the Respondent to register a company, wait for 2.5 months and then register the domain and make huge profit.

Profit from what? The domain displays the default godaddy “This Web page is parked for FREE, courtesy of GoDaddy.com.”. Respondent isn’t making any money from this and certainly the website is not “designed”  to confuse and mislead customers.

Whois also shows Rakeya Williams as a contact person for the domain name. A search at google for “Rakeya Williams” gets you to her google+ page that has 3 posts:

Nov 11, 2011
D.A.M.E.S MAGAZINE PRE-LAUNCH PARTY NOV.26TH AT COACH’S 201 ANN ST. HARTFORD CT.. MODELS, MAGAZINES, ARTIST, ONLINE RADIO ARE ALL WELCOME!!

Nov 22, 2011 – Public
Rakeya Williams originally shared this post:
D.A.M.E.S MAGAZINE PRE-LAUNCH PARTY NOV.26TH AT COACH’S 201 ANN ST. HARTFORD CT.. MODELS, MAGAZINES, ARTIST, ONLINE RADIO ARE ALL WELCOME!!
Dec 14, 2011 – Public
I’M LOOKIN FOR SOME WRITERS!!! FOR MY MAGAZINE WWW.DAMESMAGAZINE.COM PLEASE FEEL FREE TO CONTACT ME

So she was looking for writers and she was also planning to have a party. Pretty normal for a new company.

A google search revealed that the company was also looking for interns. There a few posts during Apirl of 2012 in various websites with the company looking for interns. Here are  a couple of links at youferral.com and internhere.com. Was this a conspiracy as well with the Respondent making lengthy posts about internships, months before notice of a UDRP?

Would  Rakeya Williams, that works at a salon, had made a website similar to that of the Complainants? Nobody knows. So even if the website ended up infringing on the trademarks of the Complainant that is a case that has no merit in a UDRP proceeding. The Panelist should have made the 5 minute research and dismiss the Complaint. Complainant could then sue at court if they thought they had a case.

Should Rakeya Williams have submitted a Response? Absolutely yes. Even an simple response would have cleared a lot of the matters brought up in the UDRP complaint. Should the Panelists make a slight effort to find the truth when there is a default? Absolutely yes.

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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.

7 comments

  1. Panelists play dumb and incompetent morons for only one reason …. nobody suspects them from corrupt decisions as everybody think they are just dumb.

  2. Under our legal system, judges (or in this case UDRP panelists) are NOT supposed to independently investigate a case – their role is to be an impartial referee. Based on what was before this panelist, I think it is reasonable to reach the same conclusion she did – it would have been wrong for her to do what you recommend.

    • I am not sure what legal system are you referring to, but the UDRP is not under any specific legal system.
      Panelists in all 4 centers come from all over the world and they are free to do whatever they see fit.
      There are a few panelists that have searched for whois info, visited websites, searched for screenshots or did a simple google search.
      There a lot more that simply do nothing and wait for the check.
      There a few decisions based on what panelists found.
      Some panelists don’t take at face value whatever statements (with of without proof) Complainants or Respondents make.

  3. This article represents a misunderstanding of what it means to have “legitimate” use. Just because someone has registered a corporate name does not give it the right to produce a product that is confusingly similar to an existing product. In this case, the complainant runs and had a trademark registration for an online magazine. The respondent started producing an online magazine under a similar name (Dames vs. Dame). The judge ruled appropriately under the law. This case would have come out the same way in court.

    • Respondent was D.A.M.E.S. Magazine LLC. That together with all the evidence gives legitimate use.
      What about bad faith use? Is it bad faith trying to promote your hair salon?

      If the Complaint had an objection, it should have gone to court.
      UDRP is not a court. There are different rules. Just because Panelists can decide whatever they want, without following any of the UDRP rules,
      it doesn’t make it right.

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