Google Loses in Legal Arbitration with Oogle.com Owner
A panel recently ruled against Google in a legal arbitration dispute over the domain name Oogle.com. Search engine giant Google had hoped to acquire the domain, claiming that the current owner had operated in “bad faith”.
Why Google Sought Commercial Arbitration
In June of 2012, Google filed a claim with the National Arbitration Forum about the site Oogle.com. “The Big G” claimed that the Oogle domain name was registered in bad faith, and that the dot com should be transferred to Google because of this.
The National Arbitration Forum's decision carries a heavy weight in domain name related disputes. That's because it is one of the few licensed by ICANN, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers.
What Google's Arbitration Lawyers Needed In Order to Win
In order to get a ruling in its favor, Google would have had to show bad faith on the part of Christopher Neuman, the man who registered the domain. Neuman registered Oogle.com in 1999, roughly two years after Google registered its trademark. He was 13 at the time.
In order for Google to win the legal arbitration, according to ICANN rules, it would have to show three things:
- 1. That the domain name is confusingly similar to Google's own (an obvious point in this case).
- 2. That the party who registered the domain name (in this case, Neuman) had no legitimate interest in the domain.
- 3. That the party registered the domain in “bad faith”, i.e. registered it with the full knowledge of the above two points.
Oogle.com's Arbitration Attorneys' Defense
Neuman claims that he registered the domain because of a programmer friend who went by the name “Oogle”. His friend owned Oogle.net, but not Oogle.com. Neuman bought the name in hopes that the two programmers would collaborate on a project in the near future.
Sound suspicious? The arbitration panel believed so. But it also believed that it did not have the authority to decide for sure whether Neuman's claims were true or false. Also taken into consideration was the fact that Google was not the household name in 1999 that it is today.
Neuman tried to sell the domain to Google for $600k in 2006. Some point to this as proof of his bad faith, while others pointed to the various uses of the site (including as a programming-related site) during the seven years previous.