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Persian wars : Iranian domain registrar prevails in IranClash.com UDRP

UDRP has been denied.

Imagine having the exclusive right to use the word “Clash” for strategy games.

That’s what Supercell Oy of Helsinki, Finland thought, when they filed a UDRP against the domain IranClash.com.

The Complainant produces a popular online strategy game, Clash of Clans. They claim to hold several trademarks in Finland, Europe and the US for CLASH OF CLANS.

The Respondent is based in Iran and registered the disputed domain name on June 19, 2014, operating a website with information related to online games.

In their defense, the Respondent stated:

The Respondent says that its website at the disputed domain name was established in 2014 for Iranian players. It says that the name “Iranclash” is a combination of “Iran” and “clash” and means the Battle of Iran and that the target group for the site is Iranian players with a focus on strategic battle games.

The Respondent notes that the word “clash” has not been monopolized by “Clash of Clans” and many companies other than the Complainant have already used the word “clash” as a name for online mobile games. In particular he notes the games “Clash of King”, “Clash of Lords”, “Clash of Zombie”, “Castle Clash”, “Clash of Queens” and sets out an additional list of examples in evidence. The Respondent says that in Persian (the language used on the Respondent’s site) the word “Clash” means battle and war. He notes that around 90% of online strategic games are about battles and that the word “Clash” is not directly used in the game but because the theme is about battle there are some perceived similarities with the Complainant’s site. However he says that it is only the “Clash of Clans” name that is known to online players and if he had used “Iran Clash of Clans” he notes that the Complainant might have had something to complain about.

Furthermore, the Respondent denied there was ever a “bad faith” registration for the domain IranClash.com:

The Respondent insists that the disputed domain name was created in good faith for the purpose of using it for an online strategic game with a battle theme, without any intention of trading off the Complainant’s business. It notes that on its site it offers more than 2,300 articles about online games and that by providing free training for the Complainant’s game and campaigning against the blocking of “Clash of Clans” in Iran in December 2016 the Respondent has in fact helped the Complainant’s business.

Alistair Payne, sole panelist at the WIPO found no malice in this domain registration:

The disputed domain name does not incorporate the whole of the Complainant’s CLASH OF CLANS trade mark but only the word “clash”. The fact that the word “clash” is in common usage by a number of game developers and that there is little evidence on the present record of secondary meaning concerning the use of “clash” in relation to the Complainant’s game, does not adequately support the Complainant’s case under the second element of the Policy that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name.

The Panel is not persuaded by the Complainant’s arguments concerning registration and use in bad faith in relation to the third element of the Policy. Its case appears to be quite vague and undeveloped, focused as it is on the alleged distribution or sale of CLASH OF CLANS user accounts by the Respondent, the possible interference with customer contractual relations, the use of hacking “bots” and some examples of intellectual property rights infringement. In addition the Complainant admits in the Complaint that because the website is in Persian it is unclear in various respects as to the extent of the Respondent’s offerings or activities. The Respondent asserts that it is offering a bona fide game which appears to have a significant following in Iran and has largely explained what it is doing on its website (which is in Persian) concerning its virtual pricing and news site activities.

Mr. Payne also recommended that the Complainant should seek better translators for the web site’s Farsi language, if they need to establish claims of misconduct and unlawful use of their mark:

Overall, it seems to the Panel that the Complainant is looking to the wrong forum and might well have sought professional Persian translations of the Respondent’s website in order to provide examples of illegitimate conduct that might support a finding of bad faith if it had been seriously looking for a remedy under the Policy.

The domain IranClash.com was thus ordered to remain with the Respondent.

Read the full text of this UDRP decision here.

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