Nike recovers Russian domain name


Nike has recovered the domain name in a cybersquatting dispute at the Moscow Arbitration Court.

The court ruled on January 15 that Stas Drugalyov, the owner of Russian domain registrar Caravan Telecom, had used the site in bad faith. The reasoned decision has not been published yet.

Drugalyov said he had dedicated the site to the Ancient Greek goddess of victory, Nike. The company’s lawyers showed that Drugalyov did not own a trademark for Nike and the word did not reflect his company’s name. They added it was suspicious that he owns 106 other domains, most of which are not actively used, or have been put up for sale.

The defendant has 30 days to appeal against the decision. The site is still active, showing images of the Greek Goddess Nike and including information about her.

To recover a disputed domain in Russian courts, brands must have a registered trademark in the country. They do not necessarily have to show that the domain is selling or offering competing goods and services.

Although there is no suggestion the defendant used his contacts in the domain name industry to obtain the domain, there have been instances in the past where such individuals have been found guilty of cybersquatting.

The most recent scandal to grip the domain industry was in November 2010, when Russia launched the Cyrillic version of the .ru domain, .РФ. Registar RU-Center was alleged to have used its contacts at the national registry to take 65,000 premium domains in order to sell them at auction. A Moscow court cleared the company of any wrongdoing a year later, wiping away a $7.5 million fine.

Eugene Arievich, partner at Baker & McKenzie in Moscow, said the Nike case showed that Russia was improving its efforts to protect trademark rights online.

“This is good news for brand owners, showing that Russia’s IP enforcement practices are developing in the right direction and becoming more predictable. It’s becoming easier for IP owners to beat cybersquatters.”

He added that a new Court for IP Rights, which will hear disputes on patents and trademarks, will create even more certainty for IP owners by concentrating IP cases in one place.

The court can review appeals against decisions from the Russian Patent and Trademark Office, and cases from other Russian courts. He said he expected the Moscow-based court to be ready in the next two weeks.

There are about 4 million .ru domain names and around 800,000 .РФ domains.

This article was first published on 17 January 2013 in World IP Review

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