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Grab Your Popcorn…Cinema Drama Unfolds

In the recent domain name dispute of Prime Pictures LLC v. DigiMedia.com L.P. (WIPO Case No. D2010-1877, February 2, 2011) a three member panel was faced with a dispute over the domain www.cinemacity.com. Complainant uses the mark CINEMACITY throughout Lebanon, UAE, Jordan and Syria for movie theaters. Complainant claims rights to a Lebanese registered trademark from 2006. However, as there is some dispute over the facts presented by Complainant , in that there appears to be multiple companies that are related as presented by Complainant. The Panel noted that Complainant failed to adequately identify how these companies are related. Respondent registered the disputed domain on September 24, 1998 and has used the website as a parked page since that time.

 In accordance with paragraph 4(a) of the ICANN UDRP Policy, in order to succeed in this proceeding, the Complainant must prove (i) that the Domain Name is identical or confusingly similar to a mark in which it has rights; (ii) that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the Domain Name; and (iii) that the Domain Name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.

The Panel noted that there are serious questions regarding the first element. As noted above, there were multiple companies referred to in Complainants filing. As a result, the Panel explained “More seriously there is no evidence at all that any of these companies is connected with the Complainant, Prime Pictures LLC, or that Prime Pictures LLC has any right in this mark on any other basis.” The Panel chose not to seek additional proof or information from Complainant in light of its findings under the other prongs.

The Panel then reviewed the second element, and found that Respondent did not have any rights or legitimate interests in the domain. However, as many of you know, all three of the elements must be found in favor of the Complainant. In moving onto the third element, the Panel made the following findings:

In this case the Complaint contains no evidence of any use of “Cinema City” as a mark or company name prior to September 2005. The Domain Name was registered by the Respondent in September 1998. There is no evidence whatsoever that the Domain Name was registered in bad faith. The third requirement of the UDRP has not been satisfied and the Complaint must therefore be rejected.

Normally the Panels stop their analysis at this point, making findings for Respondent. However, in this case the Respondent claimed Reverse Domain Name Hijacking. Panels have ben very reluctant to make such a finding. This Panel made the following findings:

In the present case, the Complaint correctly identified that the Domain Name was registered in 1998. Given that the earliest date of any registration or use of the mark relied upon in the Complaint was in 2005, the registration of the Domain Name could not have been in bad faith on any interpretation of the facts and cases cited in the Complaint….the Panel considers it unlikely that this deficiency was overlooked by the Complainant’s counsel and more probable that it was deliberately ignored in framing the Complaint. In all the circumstances, the Panel finds that the Complaint was brought in bad faith, in an attempt at Reverse Domain Name Hijacking.

Ultimately, the Panel DENIED the request for transfer and made a finding that Complainant engaged in Reverse Domain Name Hijacking.

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