Warner Bros. Fails to Acquire “Dumbledore” Domain Name
Warner Bros. might operate Wizarding World Digital, but the company has not acquired a domain name that shares the name of a popular character featured in both the Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts franchises. Domain Name Wire reports that Warner Bros. Entertainment has not succeeded in its complaint against the owner of the domain name Dumbledore.com, as filed with Forum (formerly known as the National Arbitration Forum).
Warner Bros. alleges that the owner of the domain has been engaging in a practice called “cybersquatting,” defined by Cambridge Dictionary as “a situation in which someone pays to officially take a famous name as an internet address, so that they can later sell it for a high price to the person or organization with that name.”
The complaint ran into two separate issues, however, as described by domain name attorney Gerald Levine.
The disputed domain name is a dictionary word that by happenstance corresponds to one of the words in Complainant’s trademark. Complainant does not have a trademark for the word ‘dumbledore’ standing alone. It may be that aficionados steeped in Harry Potter lore will instantly associate ‘dumbledore’ with the fictional character, and possibly with the trademark owner, but that is not enough to grant Complainant a monopoly on a word that has meanings beyond that conveyed by the mark. A dictionary word domain name that corresponds to a word in a trademark is not presumptively abusive of third-party rights. Use alone will determine the outcome of rights. If Respondent is found to be using the domain name in bad faith it will support registration in bad faith, but there can be no abusive registration without proof of use in bad faith.
In other words, because Dumbledore’s name comes from another word for a bumblebee, the current owner of the domain does not need to give it up to Warner Bros. by default, since there is no evidence that the domain’s owner has acted with the intent of keeping it from the company.
HarryPotter.com and NewtScamander.com, meanwhile, both redirect to Warner Bros. web pages.