Under this section, we try to provide some real case studies as to Domain Name issues that one need to take care of, which may have arisen either from WHOIS to Trademark Issues to even jurisdiction of Domain Name Registrar and more.
#1 – WHOIS Information
WHOIS of a Domain name reflects the proof of ownership of Domain Name, you can read more as to Domain WHOIS here, therefore it is quite important that as soon as you register the Domain Name, you check for the WHOIS of the Domain Name online on websites like http://whois.domaintools.com. Though, when you are registering Domain Name with reputed Domain Registrars like GoDaddy, BigRock, Name.com, the WHOIS is picked up from account registration data, there can hardly be any changes of wrong information creeping in.
But when one avails services of some local Domain Registrar, say along with a website, who maybe a reseller for Godaddy or ResellerClub. Then many such companies tend to retain WHOIS information in their own name for various reasons from simply managing the domain name for next year’s renewal or in extreme cases, with an aim to retain the customer in the long run, as one would not be able to transfer the Domain Name away in any case.
Therefore, it is important to retain the Domain Name own name, in a very recent matter of an NGO, wherein the WHOIS for all 7 domain names registered in the last 7-8 years was in the name of it’s employee. The employee left the organization and never handed over the charge back to the Organization, which included a 3L .org domain name and changed the WHOIS details to his own. In the meantime, he had shifted to a different country and the location of Domain Registrar was outside India as well. Therefore, there was hardly anything that could have been done, except for lodging a complaint in that other country. And the NGO had to forward it’s traffic to .org.in domain name.
#2 – Location of Domain Name Registrar
The jurisdiction is quite important of the Domain Registrar, like in the example above the Domain Registrar Network Solutions was located in USA and the culprit was located in Canada, therefore the legal action could have been launched in US or Canada only. But in case, Domain was registered with BigRock, some legal action could have been initiated within India.
Otherwise from the Domain Name Dispute, specially under UDRP it is important always to maintain the Domain Name with a Indian Domain Registrar, so that in case of a loss in a Domain Dispute, the jurisdiction can be retained within Indian territory. In a 2016 matter of NutriHealthSystems.com, wherein Delhi based Nutritionist/Dietitian Dr Shikha lost UDRP but she was able to file for an injunction in Indian Court as Domain Name was registered with Jaipur based Domain Registrar ZNet.
#3 – Jurisdiction for appeal in a Domain Name Dispute
Under INDRP, the jurisdiction will be that of India as .IN Registry is Based at new Delhi, India. But in case of UDRP, an option to exercise is available with the Complainant, either to choose jurisdiction of place where Respondent is located or the place where Domain Registrar has the principal place of business. And the Complainant mostly opts for the place where Domain Registrar has an office, to make it difficult for the Respondent to file for an injunction. Then the Respondent only has 10 working days to file for an injunction in a court that can be anywhere in the world.
In a very interesting matter of 2014, a resident of Greece, who lost a UDRP Domain over a 2 letter .org against a similar 2 letter .com, had to fly to India, as he was having the Domain Name at BigRock. The Complainant in the UDRP matter has chosen the jurisdiction of the domain registrar !
#4 – Response under Domain Name Dispute
It is quite important to be pro-active, when you own a Domain Name, not only as to it’s proper WHOIS but also to make sure to respond to any legal notice received from any Lawyer claiming rights as to your Domain Name. The notice should be responded at the first stage itself to make the Trademark owner know of your legitimate rights in a Domain Name.
At a later stage, in case of any Domain Dispute proceedings it is equally important to make a proper legal representation through a Lawyer. In a recent matter of VirginPVCPipe.com, which was owned by a Gujarat based company but no response was filed against the Domain Dispute filed by famous VIRGIN Group, the panel held it to be violating rights of the Trademark owner and ordered transfer of the Domain Name on 18 July 2017. And as there was no attention paid to the proceedings at all, the Domain Name was finally transferred to the Virgin Group by first week of August 2017.
5. Respondent known by the Domain Name
ARMANI.com – In this particular case, there was one person A.R. Mani based in Canada and the Trademark Owner ARMANI went after his domain ARMANI.com. But the Respondent was able to prove with his birth certificate, social security number, that his name was infact AR Mani and therefore could prove legitimate rights. As a result, ARMANI had to buy it back from the Respondent at a later stage in settlement.