BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — As the old saying goes, they laughed him out of court.
An arbitration panel this week ruled for Playboy Enterprises Inc. in a cybersquatting case against a Chinese national who registered the Playboy.club generic top-level domain.
On Wednesday, a WIPO panel was left unconvinced that Wu Hongyan of Beijing registered the “Playboy” domain without bad faith, despite claims he made over the domain he acquired in February.
Wu told the panel he was planning to use the domain for a charity website reaching men who wanted to join a travel club and argued that the word “playboy” is a common dictionary word and that any person should be free to use the word “playboy.” The site, since his registration earlier this year, hasn't been developed and currently does not resolve.
“The panel has no hesitation in concluding the requisite element of bad faith has been made out,” the arbitration panel said in its ruling. “The panel considers it is inconceivable the respondent was not aware of the complainant’s trademark at the time of registration of the disputed domain name.”
The panel noted that Playboy Enterprise’s trademark registration number past 2,000 in all 45 U.S. classes, including numerous registrations in China. The earliest Playboy trademark, No. 689431, was registered in the U.S. in December 1959.
In its decision, the panel ruled Wu’s domain, Playboy.club, was identical to Playboy’s trademark, that he did not have any rights to the domain and that it was registered in bad faith. The panel ordered Playboy.club transferred.
It’s not the first time a “Playboy” generic TLD has been considered cybersquatting after it was registered.
London real estate tycoon Michael Ross, who registered Playboy.london, lost his case two years ago.
Ross argued before an arbitrator that Playboy.london was based off his persona — a “London-based playboy who had every right to use the domain.”
The arbitrator hearing that case didn’t buy his reasoning and ordered the site transferred to Playboy.