Ron Paul just can’t win when it comes to the Internet, and really, it’s his fault in the first place. First he asked the UN, an organization he notoriously does not like, to take the domain RonPaul.com from the huge supporter base that runs it so that he can have it. Now not only has the UN ruled in favor of those supporters, but they’ve also found Paul guilty of reverse domain name hijacking. Sucks to be you, Ron.
What’s “reverse domain name hijacking,” you might ask? It’s basically just a complaint filed in bad faith against the rightful owner of a domain name.
RonPaul.com is currently run by an extremely fervent base of Ron Paul supporters who were reluctant to disrupt their already-existing online community to give Paul their domain when he asked for it. Instead they offered to either sell him the .com domain, or to give him the domain RonPaul.Org at no charge. For some reason Paul took this as a slight against him, and his lawyers tried to claim that the gesture was evidence of malicious intent. Or something. Maybe his lawyers don’t get the Internet, either.
Paul filed an official URDP complaint with the World Intellectual Property Organization in February, attempting to sieze both the .com and the .org domain name. WIPO is one of 17 specialized agencies within the United Nations and deals primarily, as the name suggests, with the protection of intellectual property among UN member states. It’s unclear why Paul went to the UN in the first place, since it’s pretty common knowledge that he hates them.
Well, it seems like the UN hates him right back, because WIPO panel had this to say:
As Respondent puts it, expressing support and devotion to Ron Paul’s political ideals is a legitimate interest that does not require Complainant’s 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.
And that’s how you lose a dispute about a domain that contains your own name, folks. The hits didn’t stop coming for Paul, though, as the panel then decided he was guilty of reverse domain hijacking in the RonPaul.org case:
Respondent has requested, based on the evidence presented, that the Panel make a finding of Reverse Domain Name Hijacking. In view of the unique facts of this case, in which the evidence demonstrates that Respondent offered to give the Domain Name to Complainant for no charge, with no strings attached, the Panel is inclined to agree. Instead of accepting the Domain Name, Complainant brought this proceeding. A finding of Reverse Domain Name Hijacking seems to this Panel to be appropriate in the circumstances.
Is it just me, or does that statement feel kind of passive agressive? I hope it’s not just me, because it makes this whole story much more satisfying.
- The US, Canada, and UK have refused dealings with the UN before in Internet matters
- Meanwhile, the UN is also really worried about terrorism online
- Which is not surprising, given that they’ve been hacked once before