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New domain name litigation practice in Lithuania

Litigation in Lithuania against cybersquaters started few years ago with a case regarding domain name “š”. Owner of the domain name registered it and contacted owner of well-known trademark “ŠVYTURYS” in Lithuania – UAB “Švyturys – Utenos alus”, which is one of the biggest breweries in the Baltic states.  The registrant offered to sell the domain name to the UAB “Švyturys – Utenos alus”. There domain name was simply registered and wasn’t used for any website.

The plaintiff faced serious problem – there was no a single Lithuanian legal act, which would directly regulate unfair registration of domain names and also there was no any institution in Lithuania, like ADR, which would specialize in solving the domain name disputes. In the first instance court the plaintiff relied on Lithuanian Law on Trademarks and on analogous legal acts of the European Union. The court in the first instance decided that the domain name was registered in bad faith, however refused to order transferring of the infringing domain name from the defendant to the plaintiff, because “Lithuanian legal acts do not provide for such remedy”. This decision of the court was criticized, because although the plaintiff won, his rights were not really defended – the same infringer or any other person on the next day could register the domain name, if the plaintiff wasn’t fast enough to register it himself. During the appeal stage the case was solved by signing settlement agreement.

Since then few more domain name cases have been solved and in all of them plaintiffs asked only for deregistration of the domain names, because of the court’s refusal to transfer the domain name to the plaintiff in the “š” case. Majority of the cases were also solved by settlement.

On October 7, 2009 Vilnius district court adopted decision in a case regarding domain name “”. This is a landmark decision, because this time the court ordered transferring of the domain name to the plaintiff. The court stated that mere deregistration of the infringing domain name is not sufficient remedy for bona fide plaintiff – only transfer of the infringing domain name to the plaintiff can be sufficient remedy.

Although this decision correspond practice of the Check Republic arbitration, which solves disputes regarding .eu domain names, and practice of WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Centre, the court’s decision still can be appealed. Also, according to Lithuanian legislation, only the Supreme Court’s decisions can be treated as precedents. Therefore even if the Vilnius district court’s decision enters into force, other courts will not be bound by it. However, team of Legal Argument thinks that this is beginning of the right path.

Please contact us in case if you would like to know more about domain name disputes in Lithuania.