201812.05
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Pornhub succeeds in domain dispute against Pornhob

In days gone by a big gripe of successful companies was rivals commencing business with a very (and confusingly) similar company name. In England and Wales, the Company Names Tribunal deals with such bad faith registrations.

While that is still an issue, and the Company Names Tribunal still operates, a more pressing threat has emerged in the digital age: targeted similar web domains. There are several ways that a rights-holder can go about protecting the integrity of its business and prevent websites operating at confusingly similar domains, but one of the most popular and cost effective is the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers’ (ICANN’s) Uniform Domain-Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP). It is a system by which a domain registrant or IP rights-holder can request that an examination is undertaken of an allegedly infringing website or domain to determine whether the domain should be surrendered.

That is the process recently used by Pornhub (“HUB”) to try to have removed a website operating at the domain pornhob.com (“HOB”). HUB was successful in arguing that its website is so well-known and visible (receiving around 60 million unique hits per day) that it was inconceivable that the HOB name was not chosen to take unfair advantage of HUB’s reputation and reach.

In the UDRP panel’s decision it was noted that HOB operated a website providing identical services and content to HUB, and that was a factor in its decision to order the surrender of the infringing domain. Pornhub, like many of the other top-ranked websites on the internet, use the UDRP process to protect the integrity of its brand, and will rightly publicise this victory.

We do wonder, however, whether if HOB had been a website showcasing particularly prestigious and  aesthetically pleasing agas, stoves, and cookers, whether the decision may have been different.

If you have any questions on the above, please do not hesitate to contact the team at McDaniel & Co. on 0191 281 4000 or legal@mcdanielslaw.com.