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Konriko.com : UDRP filed over expired 1999 domain that received a “rebranding”


Conrad Rice Mill claims to be “America’s oldest working rice mill” but they let one of their domain brands, Konriko.com, expire.

Registered in 1999, the domain was not renewed and it was sold on the expired domain marketplace at GoDaddy.

Conrad Rice Mill filed a UDRP to reclaim the domain, to protect their KONRIKO trademark, which was registered in 1979.

The Complainant stated that the KONRIKO mark is a fanciful term, lacking meaning beyond the Complainant’s products.

The Respondent, on the other hand, asserted the following:

The disputed domain name is not identical to the KONRIKO mark because the domain is not being used to sell products similar to Complainant. Respondent has rebranded the website as a business website. Respondent’s <konriko.com> does not incorporate Complainant’s logo or original branding.

Respondent has legitimate rights and interests to <konriko.com>. Respondent’s use of the domain name does not conflict with Complainant’s business.  Complainant uses <www.conradrice.com> as their main business site.  Furthermore, Respondent’s use and content of <konriko.com> is within the purview of Respondent and “is of no concern to the Complainant.”

Respondent did not register or use <konriko.com> in bad faith. Respondent purchased the disputed domain through an auction following the expiration of Complainant’s registration of the domain name. Respondent has “every legal right to purchase and own [the disputed domain name], and it was not purchased with the intent to hold and try to sell it back to [Complainant], although it is within their right to do so.” 

Using the recently expired domain of a company holding a live trademark for some other class of products or services, doesn’t provide automatic clearance.

Although the Respondent created a basic web site called “Konriko Business Insider” showing among other things services for “raccoon extermination,” they were unable to provide information on the basis and function of their use of Konriko.com.

Charles K. McCotter, Jr., sole panelist at the National Arbitration Forum, stated the following:

Panels have held that the complainant’s prior registration and use of the disputed domain name and the respondent’s registration of the domain name immediately after the complainant failed to timely renew its registration “gives rise to an inference of registration in bad faith pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(a)(iii).”  RH-Interactive Jobfinance v. Mooburi Servs., FA 137041 (Forum Jan. 16, 2003). Additionally, “[w]here the domain name registration was previously held, developed and used by Complainant, opportunistic registration of the domain name by another party indicates bad faith, absent any justification that illustrates legitimate use.”  Aurbach v. Saronski, FA 155133 (Forum May 29, 2003).

In other words, when grabbing expired domains that were being actively used prior to their expiration, better be ready to make a valid use of that domain.

For the full text of the UDRP decision on Konriko.com click here.

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