Did Deadpool Register Avengers’ Domain Names in Bad Faith?
If by chance it came to the idea of Marvel fans to visit the website that is designated by the domain AvengersEndgame.com, they would not see Stan Lee’s work showing Iron Man, Captain America, Hulk, Thor, Black Widow, Dr. Stephen Strange, Black Panther or other superheroes, but the unexpected anti-hero Deadpool! The AvengersEndgame.com domain name was registered on April 27, 2018, the day Avengers: Infinity War was released. At this time, the entire comics planet was already wondering about the next title of the Avengers series. As a connoisseur, the registrant of the domain name was probably inspired by the rumor that was already circulating on April 27, 2018, according to which the title of the following opus would be Avengers: Endgame. The rumor is allegedly taken from the dialogue of the movie Avengers: Infinity War: “We’re in the endgame now.“
On December 7, 2018, a few hours after the title Avengers: Endgame and the first trailer were officially unveiled, the domain name AvengersEndgame.com was redirected to the Once Upon A Deadpool webpage (Twentieth Century Fox). “Not good, Deadpool!” But the later is apparently not the registrant of the domain name. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the registrant made himself known on Twitter, indicating that he would agree to transfer the domain name against tickets to attend the premiere of Avengers: Endgame, April 27, 2019.
Can we argue that Marvel was in a dead end? By making a preventative registration of the domain name AvengersEndgame.com, Marvel would have taken the risk of unveiling the title of Avengers 4 too early. However, by failing to do this preventive registration, Marvel took the risk of having this domain name registered and used in bad faith. That being said, an alternative solution would simply consist in proceeding to an anonymous preventative registration. Marvel could have adopted this solution, both for AvengersEndgame.com and for AvengersInfinityWar.com, which is also redirected to the Once Upon A Deadpool page.
The whois records indicate that AvengersEndgame.com and AvengersInfinityWar.com are blocked, which suggests that a judicial or extrajudicial procedure is, if not in progress, at least considered.
Opportunistic registration of domain names following a rumor is a classic hit in cybersquatting. In the DRP case law, this practice was considered as bad faith on numerous occasions. Some examples can be found in the WIPO case law:
2004-01-16, WIPO, D2003-0871, , Aventis SA , Aventis Pharma SA. v. Nicki On, January 16, 2004 aventis-sanofi.com, sanofi-aventis.com, sanofiaventis.com Sanofi and Aventis Transfer
2005-10-20, WIPO D2005-0941, Bayerische Motoren Werke AG, Sauber Motorsport AG v. Petaluma Auto Works, October 20, 2005 bmwsauberf1.com BMW and Sauber Transfer
2007-12-26, WIPO D2007-1181, Harrods Limited v. Rob Toledo, September 26, 2007 harrodsvegas.com Harrods Transfer
2008-08-04, WIPO D2008-0763, Research in Motion Limited v. John, August 4, 2008 blackberrythunder.com Blackberry Transfer
2016-02-25, WIPO D2016-0061, Red Bull GmbH, Audi AG v. Thijjs van der Tuin, February 25, 2016 audi-redbull.com, audiredbull.com, audi-redbullracing.com, audiredbullracing.com, redbull-audi.com and redbullaudi.com Audi and Redbull Transfer
2017-04-10, WIPO D2017-0328, Bayer AG v. Ruud van der Linden, April 10, 2017 bayer-monsanto.org Bayer and Monsanto Transfer
2017-07-20, WIPO D2017-0809, Siemens AG v. James H Park, July 20, 2017 siemensgamesa.com Siemens and Gamesa Transfer
For a broader view of this issue, readers can also refer to the following article: “What to Do With Domain Names Such as starbucksnestle.com and starbucks-nestle.com?”, iptwins.com, 13 Sept. 2018.
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