Netrepreneur Connections Enterprises Inc., owner of local classified ads site sulit.com.ph, filed a case with Arbitration and Mediation Center of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) to declare the domain name sulit.ph owned by Anton Shreker and Seo.Com.Ph as being confusingly similar to its domain name. Netrepreneur Connections therefore wanted WIPO to have the ownership of sulit.ph transferred to it.
In a recent decision, WIPO dismissed the case and declared Anton Shreker and Seo.Com.Ph as having a right to the domain name sulit.ph.
In domain name disputes filed before the WIPO, three things are required to be met :
(1) That the domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which the complainant has rights; and
(2) That the respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the domain name; and
(3) That the disputed domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.
WIPO declared that sulit.com.ph proved item (1) but failed to prove item (2) and did not deem it necessary to rule on item (3). The relevant parts of the decision are quoted hereunder:
As regards point (3), the relevant issue is whether the Respondent has a legitimate interest (which does not necessarily require the Respondent to have trademark registration rights in the word “sulit”).
The Respondent appears to be genuinely using the disputed domain name comprising a generic word in connection with the “relied-upon meaning” of the word “sulit”, i.e. a good buy.
It has provided a plausible explanation in its choice of the disputed domain name, namely that it was registered in the belief that since “sulit” is a generic or descriptive word that is commonly used in abundance for advertising or in a business that involves the buying and selling goods, it would not violate the Policy.
The Panel is of the view that the fact that the Respondent’s website at “www.sulit.ph” is linked to the website at “www.classifiedads.ph” does not, in itself, constitute conclusive evidence of a lack of rights or legitimate interests (especially as the Panel finds that the use is consistent with the descriptive nature of the term “sulit”).
With this WIPO decision, sulit.ph will remain with Anton Shreker and Seo.Com.Ph.