ICANN Says Citizen Journalism Publisher Can Keep Domain Name

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ICANN, the ruling body for Internet domain names, has determined that GetLocalNews.com does not have to relinquish the domain BettendorfNews.com to the company that runs the weekly Iowa newspaper the Bettendorf News, partly because the web site name is "merely a combination of the geographically descriptive term 'Bettendorf' and the generic term 'news.'"
Lee Enterprises, which owns the 9,600 circulation Bettendorf News among some 250 daily and weekly newspapers, filed a complaint Nov. 18, asking that GetLocalNews.com relinquish the domain name
GetLocalNews.com operates more than 40,000 citizen journalism local news web sites nationwide, where any reader can post articles, message board comments or free classified ads. It registered the domain name BettendorfNews.com with Network Solutions, which uses ICANN's arbitration process to resolve domain name disputes.
In order to rule on behalf of the newspaper company, the arbitrator would have had to rule in its favor on each of the following:
(1) the domain name registered by the Respondent is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which the Complainant has rights;
(2) the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the domain name; and
(3) the domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith The arbitrator ruled in favor of GetLocalNews.com on all three counts.

Use of generic terms such as "news" are allowed in such uses even when one party has trademarked the name, as the newspaper company has, the ruling said.

"The names of cities, counties, states, countries, and geographical areas are, in all but the most exceptional cases, available to all to refer to a geographical location, according arbitrator Nelson A. Diaz in a ruling issued Jan. 7 for the National Abritration Forum. "To hold otherwise would preempt the nominative or descriptive use necessary to refer to the location in question."
Regarding the question of GetLocalNews.com's legitimate interests in use of the domain name, the ruling said, "The Panel finds that Respondent has rights and legitimate interests in the disputed domain name because it was registered for use in connection with Respondent's interactive Internet newspapers that allow the public to post articles, stories and comments directly to its site, dubbed 'Citizen Journalism.'"
The arbitrator also found no evidence of bad faith on the part of GetLocalNews.com in registering the name. "Where the domain name is comprised of geographically descriptive or generic terms, it is difficult to conclude that there is a deliberate attempt to confuse," the arbitrator said

Article from: w3reports
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