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Compare the Market loses .XXX smut-squat appeal

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Meerkat-obsessed Compare the Market, which became the first company to lose a cybersquatting complaint over a .xxx domain name, has lost its appeal against the ruling.

BGL Group, which owns the Compare The Market brand, lost its first case against the owner of comparethemarket.xxx in May, after a Czech Arbitration Court (CAC) panel decided that the term “compare the market” was just too generic to result in a finding of cybersquatting.

At that time, panelist Mike Rodenbaugh ruled: "'[C]ompare the market' could relate to myriad different types of markets and myriad different comparisons."

But BGL, which owns a trademark on the phrase "Compare the Market", filed another complaint with the CAC a week later, essentially appealing the first ruling. That complaint has now been thrown out of court on procedural grounds.

The company is still unique among porn-squatted brands; of the 27 .xxx cybersquatting cases handled under the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy this year, the other 25 have resulted in the domain being transferred to the complaining trademark holder.

Gwent resident Jon Watkins registered comparethemarket.xxx last December, shortly after .xxx domains became broadly available for public purchase, according to the latest UDRP ruling.

The fact that he used a privacy service to register the domain – shielding his name and location from public view – was used by BGL as grounds to appeal.

The company argued that had it known first time around that Watkins was a UK resident, its case that he should have been aware of the Compare the Market brand would have been much stronger.

Compare the Market is almost universally famous in the UK for its TV commercials, which use a computer generated comedy meerkat spokesperson.

But the Czech Arbitration Court panel – this time a three-person panel – rejected BGL's appeal on the basis that the company had failed to bring any new evidence to the table. The original panelist, it decided, had already considered the fact that Watkins is a UK resident.

If there was a silver lining for BGL, it was that the panel decided that its complaint did not amount to Reverse Domain Name Hijacking.

It's almost unheard of for companies to file three UDRP proceedings against the same person over the same domain name. If BGL is set on owning comparethemarket.xxx, it's probably going to have to pay off its current owner, or take him to a proper court. ®

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