BOSTON — An arbitrator has ruled against online dating conglomerate Together Networks after it pursued cybersquatting claims against competitor CheekyDevil.com.
Together Networks, which operates CheekyLovers.com, alleged that it holds a E.U. trademark for “CheekyLovers” and that the domain CheekyDevil.com leads to an online dating site that includes imagery of a “fanciful graphic of a heart design with two little horns and a tail,” like other sites it operates. It sought a domain transfer.
Together Networks owns some of the top online casual dating sites on the web, including Cupid.com, Flirt.com, BeNaughty.com, UpForIt.com, Shagaholic.com, SaucySingles.com and FreeSexMatch.com, among others.
In the case, CheekyDevil.com’s operator, who was unidentified but represented by the law firm of Greenberg Traurig, argued that it registered the domain in 2008 and started service in 2014. CheekyDevil.com also said it too had a registered trademark for its site, receiving one in the E.U. in May.
CheekyLovers.com, meanwhile started up its dating site in 2011, and received an E.U. registered mark in February.
Together Networks, in its claim at WIPO, said that domain name CheekyDevil.com is confusingly similar to its “CheekyLovers” mark because it takes the dominant element of this trademark, the term “cheeky,” while the word “lovers” is weak and devoid of distinctive character with respect to dating services since it is descriptive.
The arbitrator in the case, however, ruled for CheekyDevil.com’s operator, deciding that the timeline over the parties uses and rights raise “serious questions about whether [CheekyDevil.com’s] use of the domain name was bad faith use.” The judge rejected Together Network's claim.
“The panel finds that the present case appears to raise issues that go beyond the scope of the policy,” the arbitrator said in the decision. “Such issues as passing off or disputes relating to trademark validity and/or infringement require a comprehensive examination of evidence, which is not afforded to UDRP panels in an administrative proceeding such as this.
“The panel notes that these questions may be better addressed in a court of competent jurisdiction with greater inquisitorial powers to come to a determination as to the abovementioned questions. Based on the available record, the policy alone does not appear to be the appropriate instrument to resolve the parties’ dispute.”