A ruling recently issued in Moscow adds to the encouraging decisions against domain name squatters in Russia.
The appeal in the Burger King domain name disputes has recently been resolved by the Ninth Commercial Court of Appeals. The court rejected the registrant Alexei Makoveyev’s appeal against an earlier decision against him with regards to burgerking.su and burger-king.su lodged against him by Burger King for trademark infringement. A first instance decision in April had ruled against Makoveyev, awarding Burger King 200,000 rubles in damages – as opposed to the 500,000 rubles originally asked for, and issuing an injunction against use of the domain names.
Whilst Makoveyv claimed his websites had not featured the Burger King trademarks – they did advertise franchise services and provide information on franchising in Russia. A large image of a burger was also featured. Mavkoveyv had in the past been known in Russia with regards to his business of selling ‘pseudo-franchises’ such as ZaraZara.
A provisional order against Makoveyev and the registrar (reg.ru) had been issued at first instance with regards to prohibiting the assignment/ transferring of the said domain names.
Lacking any administrative channel for domain name disputes such as UDRP, squatting cases are brought to the commercial courts. Traditionally courts had been reluctant to support cases where the infringing domain names had not been used, or where the goods/services shown on the websites had been different to those covered by the brand owners’ Russian trademark registrations. A gradual positive change has however been seen since the mumm.ru domain name case in 2011, where the domain name had not been used, but where it was found to be a trademark infringement and act of unfair competition.
These positive moves by the Russian courts should be further encouraged and with the opening of the IP specific Courts with more specialized judges, this trend should hopefully increase.