Austria's Federal Armed Forces, or Bundesheer, have succeeded in a dispute involving the domain name 'bundesheer.at'.
As discussed in Controversial Rulings on Internet Domains, the Armed Forces are the registered owners of 'bundesheer.gv.at'. The defendant registered the domain name 'bundesheer.at', but provided a link to the government website so that internet users looking for information on the Armed Forces would be directed to the correct site.
The Supreme Court rejected the complainants' argument that the defendant's site caused confusion among the public, diluted the name of the Armed Forces and damaged their reputation. However, it did decide that the defendant exploited the name 'Bundesheer', which is protected by the Civil Code and the Constitution. The court made an analogy to the Trademark Protection Act, which provides that a trademark owner may deny any third-party use of his trademark if it is well known and such use would exploit its good reputation or distinctiveness.
Thus, although the defendant's link to the Armed Forces' site meant that users were ultimately able to find the information they sought, a large number of users were initially drawn to the defendant's site. This, said the court, infringed the Armed Forces' right not to have their name used to draw attention to unrelated content.
For further information on this topic please contact Dieter Hauck or Barbara Kurz at Preslmayr & Partners by telephone (+431 533 16 95) or by fax (+431 535 56 86) or by email ([email protected] or[email protected]).