Incorporating the phrase “official site” may increase confusion under the UDRP

A WIPO UDRP Panel in L’Oreal, Laboratoire Garnier & Compagnie v. Australian Internet Investments Pty Ltd. (D2008-1640) recently ruled found that the phrase “officialsite” in a domain name may increase the likelihood of confusion.

The Panel’s reasoning was that the phrase “officialsite” implies that the domain name belongs to the trade-mark owner or is registered with the brand owner’s permission.

The disputed domain names in the L’Oreal case were garnier-officialsite.com, lorealaustralia.com and loreal-officialsite.com.

The Panel’s decision makes sense, and is consistent with previous UDRP decisions, specifically those in which the adjudicators ruled that:

  1. the addition of non-distinctive, descriptive or generic words in a domain name does not change the overall impression of a mark; and
  2. the use of generic words descriptive of the trade-mark owner’s business will only increase the likelihood of confusion between the domain name at issue and the trade-mark owner.
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