Price comparison biz Compare The Market has lost its bid to seize the domain name comparethemarket.xxx.
BGL Group, which owns the Compare The Market brand, has the unpleasant distinction of being the first company to lose a cybersquatting case in the new adults-only .xxx extension. The owner of the domain, listed in the Whois database as Jon Watkins of Gwent, is now free to use comparethemarket.xxx in whatever way he sees fit.
BGL launched a Uniform Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP) complaint with the Czech Arbitration Court in April, but discovered this week that its claim had been rejected.
"Clearly, 'compare the market' could relate to myriad different types of markets and myriad different comparisons within each one, as demonstrated by a simple web search," CAC panelist Mike Rodenbaugh wrote.
Under the UDRP, complainants must show that the domain name was registered in bad faith. Rodenbaugh found that BGL had failed to do so in this case, as comparethemarket.xxx does not currently resolve to a website.
"Inactive non-use is clearly an insufficient indicator of bad faith; there must be something more," he wrote. "Therefore the complaint must be denied."
Often, offers to sell domains to trademark owners or "parking" the domain with ads for competitors is taken as evidence of bad faith. Neither was present in this case. However, other UDRP panelists have found in previous cases, controversially, that inactive web sites can be taken as evidence of bad-faith registration.
BGL has been operating comparethemarket.com and comparethemarket.co.uk since 2004. It also bought comparethemeerkat.com in 2007 when it introduced its hugely well-known commercials featuring Aleksandr Orlov, a computer-generated Russian meerkat whose catchphrase is "simples".
CompareTheMarket.xxx was registered on 7 December during .xxx's first days of general availability. BGL picked up comparethemeerkat.xxx on 20 December.
Since .xxx launched, 22 UDRP cases have been filed and won by companies that missed out on the extension's pricey trademark-protection "sunrise" period last autumn, which has been characterised by some as a "shakedown". ®