Guntree v Gumtree: Nominet orders gun ads site must lose domain
Oh, and there's no such thing as a 'gun tree'
Gumtree has taken ownership of the Guntree web domain after dot-UK registry Nominet ruled that the classified ads webite for guns and ammunition was similar enough to Gumtree to constitute an “abusive registration”.
Guntree, as its name strongly suggests, is a classified ads website that allows users to place adverts for firearms, ammunition and related products. Its UK domain, guntree.org.uk, was registered in 2013 according to Nominet.
Gumtree, as any fule kno, is a general classified ads website. As its submission to Nominet noted, it is a wholly owned subsidiary of eBay and has been operating in the UK since the year 2000.
Gumtree complained to Nominet’s Dispute Resolution Service in July this year that South Africa-based Guntree’s domain was an abusive registration that effectively infringed Gumtree’s trademarked name.
“The Complainant notes that the words 'gumtree' and 'guntree' are identical save for the letters 'm' and 'n', adding that this difference is found in the middle of each word and that both start with the same letters. The Complainant submits that the difference is therefore easily lost, particularly as the letters 'm' and 'n' are visually and orally similar, sounding almost the same if spoken,” noted Nominet’s independent expert who ruled on the complaint, Andrew Lothian.
Guntree denied its name infringed on Gumtree’s rights, saying there were “sufficient dissimilarities between the Domain Name and the Complainant’s mark to prevent confusion, adding that no instance of confusion has occurred in the last four years.”
It added that the word gun “is descriptive of its services whereas 'gum' has no relevance to the Complainant’s business. The Respondent contends that anyone who visits the different websites will see the difference and cannot be confused or misled, adding that confusion will be impossible or highly unlikely.”
Further, Gumtree specifically prohibits gun-related ads, whereas Guntree exists to serve that market.
Guntree also gave Nominet a printout of a Google search for the terms “gun+tree”. Gumtree was unimpressed by this, shooting back: “the Respondent’s explanation regarding its selection of the term 'guntree' is not plausible and that no reason has been provided why an artistic concept of a tree made of guns or wood would lead the Respondent to select the name for its services.”
Nominet was unimpressed with this, saying: “The explanation is tenuous to say the least.”
Dismissing Guntree’s arguments, Lothian ruled that the guntree.org.uk domain name was an abusive registration that infringed on the trademarked Gumtree name, and ordered that it be transferred to Gumtree immediately. ®