202108.26

Brisbane Olympic Games in 2032: already some cybersquatting attempts

Shortly after the announcement of the hosting of the 2032 Olympic Games by the city of Brisbane, the registry in charge of the administration of Australian domain names (auDA.org.au, 2021-07-28) had to make a statement on the impossibility of registering domain names containing the word “olympics”. And for a good reason, auDA deplores “an increase in registrations for domain names containing the word (or variations of the word) ‘Olympics'” (auDA.org.au, 2021-07-28). However, this term is reserved for the competent authorities (including the Australian Olympic Committee, in this case) and natural or legal persons benefiting from a license or authorization, in particular in the commercial sphere.

However, the competence of national registries is limited to the corresponding territory. Therefore, national registries cannot exercise their powers over top-level domains such as gTLDs (generic Top-Level Domains) and other ccTLDs (country-code Top-Level Domains). Moreover, gTLD registries cannot prohibit the registration of domain names that include the words “olympics” or “olympic”. Therefore, the most expeditious route consists of contesting the legitimacy of the domain name holder via an extrajudicial procedure. In this regard, there are many decisions regarding gTLDs (v., e.g. WIPO, D2003-0411, Comitato per l’Organizzazione dei XX Giochi Olimpici Invernali -Torino 2006 v. gate24, July 16, 2003, torino2006.net, transfer ; WIPO, D2009-1452, United States Olympic Committee (USOC) v. Alan Bachand, December 22, 2009, olympicsbesthotels.com, transfer ; WIPO, D2010-0415, The London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games Limited v. H&S Media Ltd, April 29, 2010, mylondon2012.com, transfer ; WIPO, D2016-0322, The Canadian Hockey Association and The Canadian Olympic Committee v. Lin Lin, April 17, 2016, canadaolympichockey.com and canadaolympicstore.com, transfer ; WIPO, D2020-2318, The International Olympic Committee and The Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games v. Registration Private, Domains By Proxy, LLC / Frank Chan, December 1, 2020, tokyo2020apparel.com, transfer ; WIPO, D2021-1115, The International Olympic Committee (IOC) v. Domain Admin, FBS INC, Whoisprotection.biz / Fikret Unal, June 8, 2021, imaocolympic.com, transfer). Sometimes the word “Olympics” is associated with a famous brand (v., e.g.: WIPO, D2013-0918, LEGO Juris A/S v. PDAWerks, August 28, 2013, legoolympics.com, transfer), which implies a minimum of discussion with the International Olympic Committee before any pre-litigation action. Despite a few cases (see, e.g., Nominet, DRS D00008302, The London Organising Committee Of The Olympic Games And Paralympic Games Limited, 16 April 2010, concerning twelve domain names with the words “London” and “Olympics “, all having been transferred), disputes involving ccTLDs are rarer, which attests to the effectiveness of the powers allocated to the national registries.

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