City of Cork loses battle for Cork.eu

The city of Cork will have to take a Dutch company to arbitration if it wants to continue to fight for the cork.eu domain name. The City Council of Ireland's second largest city lost its arbitration case against .eu domain registry EURid.

Cork.eu was registered by Traffic Web Holding (TWH), a company with a Benelux trade mark on the term 'cork'. TWH applied for the domain on 5th January of this year. Cork City Council filed its application on 11th January but argued that it should be awarded the domain because it filed supporting documentation before TWH did. The arbitration panel rejected that argument.

"The Panel rejects the Complainant's contention that EURid should have granted the domain CORK.eu to Complainant because the documentary evidence in support of Complainant's application was submitted prior to Traffic Web Holding's documentary evidence," said the ruling from the Alternative Dispute Resolution Centre for EURid, which is a Czech arbitration court appointed to rule on .eu disputes.

"The date of receipt for the documentary evidence is not relevant to determine this order as long as this documentary evidence is received before the [relevant] deadline," it said.

Cork's main allegation was that TWH acted in bad faith in registering the domain. The arbitration panel said that a case based on this must be taken up directly with the domain name holder. That is not possible until the domain name has been activated, which has not yet happened.

"The principles of due process and fair procedure require that Traffic Web Holding must have an opportunity to defend itself against any such allegations before its registration of CORK.eu could be held to be made in bad faith," wrote the panel. "Traffic Web Holding is, however, not a party to the present ADR procedure. An ADR proceeding against a Domain Name Holder can only be initiated once the domain name at issue has been registered and activated, which is not yet the case for CORK.eu."

Cork must therefore wait before taking any further action, and that action must be directly against TWH. Cork had argued that TWH "applied for registration of the domain name CORK.eu without rights or legitimate interest in the name," according to the arbitrator. Cork's case said that two unsuccessful applications for the domain name CORK.eu had previously been made by an organisation called Parknet, which had the same contact details as TWH. Its applications were based on alleged trade mark registrations in Malta and the Netherlands.

Cork also argued that bad faith was proved by the fact that TWH had also registered a number of other city domains, including Prague.eu, Lisbon.eu, Glasgow.eu, Belfast.eu, and Athens.eu, and has lodged applications for London.eu, Paris.eu, and Moscow.eu.

The arbitration panel said that Cork may well have a bad faith case against TWH, but that a separate action against it must be taken, and that that is not possible until the domain is activated.

"The principles of due process and fair procedure require that the domain name holder has the opportunity to defend itself against such allegations, which is not possible in an ADR procedure against the Registry," said the ruling.