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FoodAndWineTravel.com : Australian company tries to grab generic domain via UDRP

Dot .Wine and .Vin domains from Donuts, Inc.

Have food and wine, will travel.

Food and wine travel is a common practice for epicureans, also known as foodies.

Michael Keriakos, of Keriakos Media Ventures of New York, acquired the domain FoodAndWineTravel.com to create a venture with the well-known company Time Inc. and specifically in relation to Time Inc.’s “Food & Wine” publishing brand.

Keriakos states that he paid $2,500 dollars for the domain, not being aware of any existing marks that would create a conflict.

An Australian company,  Food and Wine Travel Pty Ltd, filed a UDRP for the domain, on the basis of its existing trademark.

[…] is the owner of Australian Registered Trademark No. 1285381 registered on 17 February 2009 (the “Trademark Registration”). The Trademark Registration comprises three coloured logos together with the words “food and winetravel.com.au” laid out in coloured and stylized form with the “.com.au” being in a significantly smaller font size than the other words. The Trademark Registration is in respect of various services, including but not limited to, arranging, reservation and booking of travel, tours, holidays, vehicle hire, accommodation, and food and drink experiences, and information thereto.

In an interesting twist, the Complainant asserted that from October 2009 to 30 March 2016 it also owned the Disputed Domain Name. During that period the Disputed Domain Name was linked by redirection to the Complainant’s website at foodandtravelwine.com.au.

A conflicting finding: the domain appears to have been sold off at Sedo for $740 dollars in 2010, according to NameBio.

Whether that domain expired and was sold again is unclear; however, the Complainant reached out in 2016 to the new owner, Michael Keriakos, with the following email:

“Dear Mike,

I am contacting you from Australia and had been interested in the domain www.foodandwinetravel.com. I have done some searches and see that you or your business, Keriakos Media Ventures, is the registrant of the domain name and that it is currently a parked domain. Is the domain one that you plan on using for a website or is it something that you would be willing to transfer for a reasonable price?

Thanks and I look forward to receipt of your reply.”

Michael Keriakos responded thus, according to the UDRP:

“We paid a lot for it recently but also own gourmet travel.com – we may be willing to transfer one for low 6 figures.

Prob not what u had in mind…”

The Respondent sets out in detail, with numerous examples, arguments that the words “food”, “wine” and “travel” are entirely descriptive terms and disputes that the Complainant has any rights in those words either individually or in combination.

The sole panelist, Nick J. Gardner, agreed with this view, stating the following:

“There are (not surprisingly) numerous businesses both in the United States of America and Australia (and no doubt elsewhere) which use the words “food, “wine” and “travel” in promoting their businesses. The Respondent’s belief that no one entity was likely to have rights that would preclude it from obtaining the Disputed Domain Name was in the Panel’s view a reasonable one.”

The final decision was that the domain FoodAndWineTravel.com should remain with the Respondent.

For the full text of this UDRP decision, grab your food and wine, and travel over to this WIPO link.

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