Souq and King Souq UDRP : Two market domains battle it out in Dubai

The owners of the domain“market” in Arabic – filed a UDRP against

Both domain names are operated by their respective owners in Dubai, and are obviously competing in the online marketplace arena.

The Complainant, FZ LLC of Dubai, United Arab Emirates, alleged that infringes on its trademark, “SOUQ”, which exists in stylized format in Latin and Arabic. They registered in 1996, according to the UDRP.

According to the Complaint, the Complainant’s store attracts more than 31 million unique visits per month. The Complainant has earned over USD 300 million in revenue in the last year, and has devoted USD 50 million to advertising in the Middle East.

The Respondent fought off these claims, stating:

“The Disputed Domain Name is not identical or confusingly similar to the Trade Mark. The Trade Mark is identical to the common word “souq”, which means “market”. The Complainant does not have exclusive rights to this term. There are many domain names which incorporate this term, and a search of this term receives many search results.

The incorporation of the term “king” distinguishes the Disputed Domain Name from the Trade Mark.”

A three member panel at the WIPO delivered this finding:

“[…] the Respondent has now been operating a business, based in the same city as that of the Complainant, for over 3 years. During that time, the Respondent has invested in marketing and has developed its own customer base. The Complainant must have been aware of the Respondent’s business, and could have filed a complaint at any time following the Respondent’s registration of the Disputed Domain Name. Its failure to do so has allowed the Respondent to solidify its rights to the Disputed Domain Name.

There is no evidence before the Panel that the Complainant had put the Respondent on notice that the Complainant believed the Respondent was infringing the Complainant’s rights in the Trade Mark.”

The panel’s decision: The domain should remain with the Respondent.

For the full text of the UDRP, click here.

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