Court Declines to Review LRO to [.delmonte], Saying gTLDs Aren’t ‘Domain Names’ for Cybersquatting Purposes

11 02 2014

A Swiss Del Monte entity that had a license to use the “DEL MONTE” mark applies to operate the .delmonte generic top level domain (gTLD). Another Del Monte entity, based in Delaware, filed a “legal rights objection” (under WIPO-established procedures) to the Swiss Del Monte’s application. A three member panel sustained the Delaware company’s LRO. (Here’s a .pdf link to the panel decision.) The Swiss entity sued in federal court seeking a declaration that it had sufficient rights in the “DEL MONTE” mark to operate the TLD and that it was not violating the Anti-cybersquatting Consumer Protection Act (ACPA, the cybersquatting statute) in doing so. The Swiss entity further sought an injunction requiring the Delaware entity to withdraw its LRO.

The court says an initial question is whether it has jurisdiction. . . .

Is a gTLD a “Domain Name”?

On the key question of whether plaintiff’s application to operate the .delmonte TLD implicates the ACPA, the court says it’s a matter of first impression. Generally, courts ignore the TLD in the context of the trademark analysis (i.e., is treated the same as “acme” for trademark purposes). Nevertheless, the case law is largely inconclusive.

The court looks to the text of the ACPA and says it’s equivocal:


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