A Dubious Decision on LSATexperts.com?

Despite the different logo on the LSATExperts.com, the UDRP panelist accepted the allegation that the domain name was used in some phishing campaign to secure LSAT user’s credentials.

UDRP ruling fails to disclose any details about the alleged phishing campaign and that’s raising questions because allegations of phishing imply fraudulent criminal activities. While UDRP cases often seem open-and-shut, Dawn Osborne has a reputation of granting more transfers than most other panelists and this one merits a closer look.

Summary of LSATexperts.com UDRP Decision:

  • Complainant Law School Admission Council (owner of LSAT trademark for test administration services) filed a UDRP against the domain lsatexperts.com.
  • The Panel found the domain confusingly similar to the LSAT mark, as adding the descriptive word “experts” did not prevent confusing similarity.
  • Respondent was found to have no rights or legitimate interests, as their website used Complainant’s mark in the masthead and appeared to impersonate/pass off as Complainant for a login page, which cannot be bona fide use.
  • The Panel ruled Respondent registered and used the domain in bad faith under UDRP 4(b)(iii) & (iv) by intentionally creating confusion to attract users for commercial gain, disrupting Complainant’s business, and potentially engaged in phishing.
  • The Panel ordered transfer of the lsatexperts.com domain to Complainant.

Analysis of of LSATexperts.com UDRP Decision:

The Law School Admission Council (owners of the LSAT mark, US Registration Number: 1082047) claimed the lsatexperts.com domain enabled a phishing scheme to nab user credentials. But the evidence for actual phishing is tenuous at best.

Yes, the site had a login page using “LSATexperts” branding. But no proof showed this harvested LSAC credentials through spoofed emails or false affiliation claims. For all we know, it serviced a legitimate test prep service requiring user accounts.

Trademark law allows fair use of marks for descriptive purposes. “LSATexperts” arguably qualifies – tutors and coaches are experts at preparing for that exam, right? The mere inclusion of a trademark within a brand doesn’t automatically prove bad faith.

The panel faulted the respondent for not responding to the complaint. Fair enough, but the burden remains on the trademark owner to prove ill intent with substantive evidence, not mere speculation.

While LSAC understandably patrols its important brand, legal standards still require factual showings of real trademark infringement or phishing behavior. On the limited record present, transferring the lsatexperts.com domain seems like an overreach not justified by the conclusory allegations made.

Responsible domain ownership merits respect. But so do proceedings with proper evidentiary scrutiny. This case highlights why close examination remains crucial for trademark disputes – even over descriptive domains that arguably comply with fair use principles. A higher bar may have been warranted here before branding the registrant a criminal phisher.