iROKO Partners, the world’s largest online distributor of African movies and music, today announced its legal victory against Iroko TV Movies over a domain name that it claimed had been infringing on its trademarks.
In the case iROKO Partners Ltd vs. Iroko TV Movies, a complaint was filed based on a domain name dispute over Irokotvmovies.com.
Jessica Hope, global communications officer of iROKO Partners, explained to HumanIPO that: “We came across the site a few months back and approached them to take the site down. Proceedings started on April 20, 2012 before a properly constituted arbitration Panel.”
Following the decision in iROKO Partners’ favour, the domain name has as a result been taken from Iroko TV Movies and it is in the process of being assigned to the company. The website has since been removed permanently.
In the case of a disputed domain name, in order to divest a party of the disputed domain name, the complaining party must prove three things beyond any reasonable doubt. These include that the domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark in which the party has rights, the other party has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name, and, lastly, that the disputed domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.
Hope says that iROKO Partners established and proved all three requirements and as a result managed to win the case against Iroko TV Movies.
iROKO Partners’ complaint was threefold: the disputed domain name was confusingly similar to IROKO Partners’ iROKOtv trademark, it was being used in bad faith and, thirdly, that the other party had no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name.
On June 1, 2012, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) arbitration panel agreed with all three issues and ruled conclusively in favour of iROKO Partners. In its summary, the panel noted that in this case, the Respondent registered the disputed domain name with knowledge of the Complainant’s term “irokotv” and with the intention of taking advantage of the Complainant’s rights in that term.
The panel said: “By using the disputed domain name in connection with an unauthorized service which competes directly with the Complainant’s own “irokotv” service, the Respondent is using the disputed domain name in bad faith”.
Bastian Gotter, chief operations officer of iROKO Partners, said: “I am satisfied with the WIPO’s judgment. We have spent the last two years building a respected, global brand, streaming legally-sourced Nollywood movies online. The company in question willfully set out to defraud our loyal fans by infringing our trademarks and this why we instigated this legal action.
“We have never made a secret of the fact that fighting trademark & copyright infringements are two of our key objectives in raising standards in respecting intellectual property across the Nigerian entertainment industry. Theft of brand names, movies, music – any creative content – is simply unacceptable and we will continue to defend our rights and the rights of movie producers, actors and musicians who work with us.”