De Beers case sets new precedent for intellectual property

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De Beers’ case regarding a generic top-level web domain has set a new precedent for intellectual property disputes.

Back in January, a Bahamian company called Domain Admin, Whois Privacy Corp. registered the domain name “DeBeers.feedback.” The website features 11 customer reviews for De Beers and links to the DeBeers website. Moreover, a disclaimer at the bottom of the page states, “This site is provided to facilitate free speech regarding De Beers. No direct endorsement or association should be conferred.”

In July, De Beers filed a complaint against this company with the World Intellectual Property Organization’s (WIPO) Arbitration and Mediation Center.

In the complaint, De Beers asked to have the domain name to be transferred to them, arguing that “.feedback” domains are meant to be used by brand owners to give clients a channel for offering reviews. De Beers also questioned the authenticity of the site’s customer reviews, and added that the site’s disclaimer is not readily available.

Now, WIPO’s Arbitration and Mediation Center has decided in favor of De Beers, noting the disputed domain name infringes upon DeBeers’ trademark. This is the first case in which a brand has been able to reclaim the rights to a domain name relating to a generic top-level domain.

“We’re very pleased,” says a spokesperson for De Beers. “Luxury businesses such as De Beers make huge investments over a number of generations to grow the value of their brand, and any misuse of our IP could seriously undermine our brand equity.”

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