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American Home Appraisals Has Legitimate Interest in AmericanAppraisals.com

The World Intellectual Property Organization today found in favor of Mercer Island-based appraiser Richard Hagar of American Home Appraisals in a domain name dispute brought by Wisconsin-based appraiser American Appraisal Associates, Inc., over AHA’s AmericanAppraisals.com domain name.

Applying the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy’s three-part test, the single-member panel found that AAA had rights in its AMERICAN APPRAISAL and AMERICAN APPRAISAL ASSOCIATES registered trademarks, to which it found AmericanAppraisals.com was confusingly similar.

However, the panel concluded that AAA had failed to prove the remaining two elements. Since AAA’s marks consist of “everyday words,” the panel found “it makes it more difficult for [AAA] to establish that [AHA] selected the disputed domain name with [AAA’s] mark in mind and not simply to describe [AHA’s] own business.” The panel found that AAA had offered no evidence that AHA selected AmericanAppraisals.com “with the intent to take advantage of [AAA’s] marks or the reputation surrounding them and no evidence from which the Panel could reasonably make such an inference.”

The panel also found no evidence AHA had registered AmericanAppraisals.com in bad faith because it had not attempted to sell the domain name, regularly engaged in acquiring domain names consisting of third parties’ marks, or used the domain name for anything other than a legitimate business.

Full disclosure: this blogger represented Mr. Hagar and American Home Appraisals in the proceeding.

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