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Blixen.com : “Out of Africa” author’s name lost in UDRP

Karen Blixen - Wikipedia.

Karen Blixen – Wikipedia.

Karen Blixen is the author of the memoir book, “Out of Africa,” which inspired the award-winning movie of the 80’s.

The Danish Duchess has long passed, but Rungstedlundfonden of Rungsted Kyst, Denmark is a foundation set in her name.

With that in mind, the foundation filed a UDRP against the owner of the domain Blixen.com.

While it’s a last name shared by others, including businesses, the Complainant claims rights to a variety of trademarks:

The Complainant is the owner of several Danish trademark registrations incorporating KAREN BLIXEN, including Nos. VR200602331 for KAREN BLIXEN (figurative mark), registered on June 26, 2006, in classes 29, 30 and 31; VR20702759 for KAREN BLIXEN’s GAESTEBUD (word mark), registered on August 3, 2007, in classes 8, 20 and 21; VR200702758 for KAREN BLIXEN’S JUL (word mark), registered on August 3, 2007, in classes 8, 20 and 21; and VR200703343 for KAREN BLIXEN’S AFRIKA, registered on September 7, 2007, in classes 8, 20 and 21.

The Complainant is also the owner of the European Union trademark No. 005977632 for KAREN BLIXEN’S CRYSTAL, registered on March 25, 2008, in classes 8, 20 and 21.

According to the Complainant, they also operate Blixen.dk, which was registered on February 2, 1998 and is used by the Complainant to provide information about the Karen Blixen museum, including the museum’s café and shop, and the Karen Blixen’s life and works.

The UDRP about Blixen.com is interesting because the Respondent claimed the mark is insufficient to claim rights to the domain:

“The Respondent denies confusing similarity between the disputed domain name and the Complainant’s Danish trademark No. VR 2006 02331 since i) the Complainant’s trademark is a figurative mark illustrating a handwritten signature, where the wording “Karen Blixen” is not clearly visible and the figurative element is dominant; and ii) the Complainant’s trademark consists also of the prefixed name “Karen” and the classes of goods for which the trademark is protected (i.e. foodstuffs) are not similar to the goods for which the disputed domain name will be used (i.e. safari and outdoor clothing).”

In this case, however, the Respondent reached out to the Complainant, offering a “joint venture” of sorts:

“The Complainant informs the Panel that the Respondent contacted the Complainant concerning her clothing line “BLIXEN – exclusive safari & outdoor clothing” inspired by “Karen Blixen’s African universe” and proposing a collaboration between the parties. Therefore, the Complainant concludes that the Respondent has been aware of the Complainant’s rights all long, and that the Respondent registered the disputed domain name in bad faith with the intention of exploiting the advertising value of the author’s name.”

Luca Barbero, sole panelist at the WIPO, ordered the domain Blixen.com to be transferred to the Complainant.

Would the Complainant go after KarenBlixen.com next?

For the full text of the UDRP, click here.

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