Marshall, Gerstein & Borun Secures Order Transferring Three Domain Names To National Association of Boards of Pharmacy
The Internet can be a dangerous place, particularly in the arena of pharmaceuticals, where security and integrity of source are of critical importance to consumers.
On November 3, the National Arbitration Forum ruled in favor of the Firm’s client the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP) in a Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP) case. The NABP is a non-profit, impartial organization whose members are state boards of pharmacy. NABP’s mission is to protect the public health.
One of NABP’s programs is the Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites or VIPPS accreditation program for internet pharmacies. Internet pharmacies meeting professional pharmacy practice and safety criteria established by NABP are entitled to display the VIPPS seal on their Web sites, symbolizing to the public their compliance with the established quality standards.
In the case handled by Marshall, Gerstein & Borun LLP, an individual had registered the domain names vippspharmacies.com, vipps-pharmacies.com, and vipps-accredited-pharmacies.com, which incorporate NABP’s registered certification mark "VIPPS." The potential for public confusion about the affiliation of these domain names with the VIPPS program posed a serious threat to the public and to NABP’s organizational mission, since purchasers of prescription drugs could easily have been duped into believing that the domain names led to Web sites certified by or affiliated with NABP. Although the owner of the domain names argued that he had a legitimate right to the domains, the arbitration forum agreed with NABP and ordered that all three be transferred to the association.
Cybersquatting continues to be an important concern for trademark owners who must enforce their rights against offenders around the globe. Because a UDRP case does not require the trademark owner to establish personal jurisdiction over the wrongful registrant in a court, and because the proceedings are handled in writing via email with the arbitrators, the UDRP is an expeditious and cost-effective way of getting a domain name out of the hands of an infringer.