NTT DoCoMo accused of reverse domain name hijacking

When NTT DoCoMo accused AT&T of hijacking imode.biz, it forgot to mention that it had licensed the name to the US telco. Now the tables have been turned

Japan's NTT DoCoMo was accused by a panel convened by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) of attempting to reverse-hijack the imode.biz domain name after it lost its case to win the name from US telecoms giant AT&T.

The accusation was delivered in a ruling by WIPO's arbitration panel, which found that AT&T had not registered imode.biz in bad faith and furthermore that in failing to disclose relevant information to the panel, the complaint was a case of attempted reverse domain name hijacking.

A case of reverse domain name hijacking was decided on even though AT&T did not seek this, said the panel. The reason for this was that in bringing its case, NTT DoCoMo failed to disclose the (otherwise widely publicised) fact that it had a significant investment in AT&T. Under the terms of this investment, AT&T was granted "licences to all DoCoMo know-how, technology and intellectual property rights related to i-mode mobile multimedia services (up to and including 3G) as it is developed; sole use of the i-mode brand in the USA, and other know-how developed for mobile multimedia services."

AT&T registered the imode.biz domain name on 27 March this year. NTT DoCoMo, which created the i-mode service, filed its complaint against AT&T with WIPO in April under the Start-up Trademark Opposition Policy and Rules that govern disputes in the .biz domain. Although the panel found that NTT DoCoMo clearly has rights to the imode and i-mode trademarks, it said both parties had a legitimate interest in the domain name. Under the .biz dispute procedures, NTT DoCoMo would have had to demonstrate bad faith on AT&T's part, but in the opinion of the panel it failed to do so.


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