Lessons of Project.Me
Traditional.ly, once in a while we cover domain names disputes. .ME remains relative.ly a clear zone (unlike the rest of the Internet), with only eight cases filed at WIPO in 2008 (also discussed in our earlier article featuring Porsche.Me) and further nine cases filed in 2009. With near.ly 300+ registered .me domain names, that makes negligible 0.3‰ a year.
While all 2008 filings were pretty straight-forward cases of cybersquatting of well-established worldwide recognised trademarks (CreditMutuel, Porsche, ExxonMobil, Danone, Sprite, Firefox x 2 + Mozilla), hence ended up in transfers to complainants, one of those 2009 ones went quite the other way around.
No doubt, the other eight cases of 2009 (overstock.me that went to Overstock.com, Inc., gameload.me + gamesload.me + softload.me + softwareload.me - to Deutsche Telekom AG, intesasanpaolo.me - to Intesa Sanpaolo S.p.A., thebodyshop.me - to The Body Shop International Plc, monabanq.me - to Monabanq 3 Suisses International, softpedia.me - to Softnews Net SRL, plavix.me - to Sanofi-Aventis, and akbank.me - to Akbank Turk A.S.) just made the statistics. But one case certain.ly did not.
Project.Me, claimed by project.me GmbH lost its stand. The legitimate owner of the domain name, Alan Lin, a significant player on LLL.me and Premium.Me markets, did his homework proper.ly. The German complainant missed the timing but also the scope. Filing for a trademark after the domain name registration was already a good indication of bad faith itself, then trying to set up the owner - was a big miss indeed.
Though, while looking close.ly at the case, the panelists established a new practice of also looking at .me names as the whole, including and excluding .me suffix. Before, they usually looked at the names without the top-level domain.
Now, the question is how to go about mobile.me, which is still unreleased by the registry and waiting for its big day. Should the potential buyer fear Apple with its "mobile me" trademark?
By the way, those interested in project.me, can bid on it using this page. Make sure to submit an offer above the seller's minimum bid threshold of US$10,000 to get anywhere real.