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New domain name litigation practice in Lithuania

Not so long ago unfair registration of domain names in Lithuania was quite a big problem and headache for trademark and company name owners. The first case in Lithuania regarding unfair registration of domain name was solved only in 2004 (UAB Kristiana v. Kęstutis Mikoliūnas; domain name in question – “kosmada.lt”). In this decision the court for the first time decided that earlier trademark rights owner can take actions against unfair registration of domain name. Since 2004 several cases reading the domain names have been solved. However the court still faces the same problems:
  1. -          lack of legal acts which regulate domain name registration (although there are several legal acts which can be applied indirectly or by legal analogy);
  2. -          lack of legal acts which would allow the domain name to be transferred to the trademark owner (thus the infringer or any other person can register the domain name as soon as it becomes free according to the court’s ruling);
  3. -          there is no arbitration which would solve domain name disputes (only the courts can solve these disputes).
On 26/06/2009 the court for the first (case No. 2-846-553/2008, Burger King corporation v. SC Burger King SRL; domain name in question – “burgerking.lt”) time ruled to transfer the domain name to the trademark owner despite the fact that none of the legal acts provide such a remedy. The court motivated this decision relying on rationality and prudence – according to the court, if the domain name is only deregistered – the trademark owner’s right would not be fully defended. The court also confirmed that in .lt domain name disputes the Commission Regulation (EC) No 874/2004 of 28 April 2004 laying down public policy rules concerning the implementation and functions of the .eu Top Level Domain and the principles governing registration can be applied legal analogy (for the first time this regulation was applied by legal analogy on 21/12/2007 in a civil case No. 2-1652-41/07, UAB Švyturys-Utenos alus v. Mindaugas Kalčinskas; domain name in question: “švyturys.lt”).On 22/10/2010 Vilnius district court issued it’s decision in a civil case No. 2-3853-585/2010 (UAB Mano duomenys v. UAB “Matrix”; domain names in question: “manoduomenys.eu” and “manoduomenys.com”), where our lawyers were relying only on company’s name (the company didn’t have any trademark, only company name). For the first time in Lithuanian court practice  
  1. -          the court decided that business name is an earlier right and it can be used against unfair registration of domain names;
  2. -          the domain names in question were .eu and .com domain names. So far all domain name disputes in Lithuania were regarding .lt domain names.
  3. -          The court granted full compensation of the plaintiff’s legal expenses from the defendant. So far the court usually would grant about 60 % of the litigation expenses.
The defendant still can appeal the decision within 30 days.  The same defendant (UAB Matrix) has many more domain names with known trademarks and company names in them. Another case against this company is still being solved in the court (civil case No. 2-6108-619/2010, Dell Inc. v. UAB Matrix; domain names in question: dellservice.lt and delloutlet.lt).Our attorney-at-law are experienced domain name dispute solvers. In case if you have any question related to domain name disputes – please feel free to contact trademark and domain name dispute team of LEGAL ARGUMENT at any time.