With order of 14 September 2012, the US District Court for the Southern District of Texas, Houston Division, has ordered the City of Paris, France, to pay USD 100,000 in statutory damages (plus attorneys’ fees) to Jeffery Walter, who had registered the domain name parvi.org in 2006 and lost it in a WIPO UDRP proceeding to the city of Paris in 2009.
What happened? Walter had registered parvi.org allegedly unaware of the rights of the City of Paris in the trademark PARVI. Despite initially amiable contacts, the City of Paris sued for transfer of the domain name under the UDRP and won the transfer of the domain (Case No. D2009-1278 ). The respondent Jeffrey Walter was not content and sued Paris before the Federal District Court for reverse domain name hijacking under the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act (ACPA), 15 U.S.C. § 1114(2)(D)(ii)(iv), because, as he claims, he was not in bad faith when registering the domain name in 2006.
The City of Paris did probably not realize that by initiating UDRP proceedings, it subjected itself to the jurisdiction of the court at the seat of the registrar, which in this case was Texas. In any case, it did not respond to the suit filed before the District Court, and the court entered a default judgment (Case no. 4:2009cv03939). Whether Walter will be able to collect on this in France is questionable, but I would be surprised if the City of Paris had no assets in the US – be it even other domain names registered with registrars domiciled in the US.
You can find more information on the dispute here (by the lawyers for Jeffrey Walter, beware of hyperbole).
For the practitioner, the lesson of this case is that you have to be aware that under the UDRP, you subject the claimant to the jurisdiction at the seat of the registrar, and that is very often the US, which has anti-reverse domain name hijacking provisions that bite.