Ron Paul Loses Attempt to Claim RonPaul.com and RonPaul.org Domain Names


As I blogged back in February, Ron Paul angered some of his fans by relying on a UN-sponsored dispute resolution mechanism, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), to try to claim he should legally own the domain names RonPaul.com and RonPaul.org, not the people who currently did. 

WIPO has now decided against Paul and for the current name holders. Their full decision on the .org challenge specifically.

The core of WIPO's reasoning:

First, Respondent [current owners] has used the Domain Name to link it to an independent and legitimate fan site. As Respondent puts it, expressing support and devotion to Ron Paul's political ideals is a legitimate interest that does not require Complainant's [Ron Paul] authorization or approval. Moreover, Respondent's legitimate interest in the Domain Name is strong because the site provides a place for political speech, which is at the heart of what the United States Constitution's First Amendment is designed to protect. In this way, the Panel is persuaded by Respondent's arguments and evidence that Respondent is making a legitimate noncommercial or fair use of the Domain Name, without intent for commercial gain to misleadingly divert consumers or to tarnish any trademark at issue.

Moreover, Respondent has submitted evidence that there are multiple, very clear disclaimers on the website to which the Domain Name links, indicating that the site is not Complainant's official site. In regards to Complainant's arguments that the website is actually a "pretext for commercial advantage", the Panel finds the website linked to the Domain Name is primarily a noncommercial service, while the products advertised and sold are ancillary to the site's primary purpose as a source of news and information about Ron Paul, and serving as political forum…..

The website is offering goods and services that promote Ron Paul and sells only goods that promote Ron Paul. The site goes far to dispel any confusion that Respondent or JNR might have a relationship to Complainant, including use of multiple, prominently placed disclaimers. Finally, related to Respondent's second main point, there is no evidence that Respondent has attempted to corner the market of domain names to prevent Complainant from reflecting his alleged RON PAUL mark in a domain name. To the contrary, the evidence indicates that in 2013 Respondent offered to give Complainant the <ronpaul.org> Domain Name for free.  

My book on Ron Paul and his fans, Ron Paul's Revolution: The Man and the Movement He Inspired.