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Korean Court Case Report – 2011 – Domain Name
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15-12-28 14:10
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The Korean Supreme Court rejected demands for damage compensation against Hewlett Packard Company by a Korean individual who earlier was ordered to transfer his domain name “hpweb.com” to Hewlett Packard Company (rendered on May 26, 2011; Case No. 2009 DA 15596).
 
 
(A) Outline of Facts 
 
The Plaintiff is a Korean individual who is a web designer ('Plaintiff'). The Defendant is Hewlett Packard Company whose headquarters are located in California, U.S.A ('Defendant'). The Defendant registered the trademark “hp” in relation to computer hardware, etc. in the United States Patent and Trademark Office. 
 
On November 23, 1999, the Plaintiff registered the internet domain name “hpweb.com” ('Domain Name') with Network Solutions Inc., a domain name registrar in the U.S. ('NSI').
  
On August 3, 2000, the Defendant filed a petition with the National Arbitration Forum ('NAF'), one of the dispute settlement agencies in the U.S. In the petition, the Defendant asserted that NAF should order the Plaintiff to transfer the domain name to them under the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy and its Rules of Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers.
  
On September 8, 2000, the NAF issued a favorable decision for the Defendant. In its decision, the NAF stated: the mark "hp" of the Defendant is very well-known and highly protected under the 1aw; the domain name of the Plaintiff is similar to the trademark of the Defendant; the Plaintiff has no legitimate interest with the Domain Name; and the malicious registration of the Domain Name by the Plaintiff was presumed. In accordance with this decision, NSI transferred the Domain Name to the Defendant.
 
On September 18, the Plaintiff filed a lawsuit with the Seoul District Court using his Korean address. In the lawsuit, he demanded that the Defendant retransfer the Domain Name back to him and also pay damage compensation for its unjust enrichment.
 
 
(B) Final Judgment of the Korean Supreme Court
  
(a) Applicable laws
  
In regard to whether the Defendant has a right to seek for an injunction against the use of the Domain Name by the Plaintiff, the American laws shall be applicable because the infringement of the trademark right by the Plaintiff took place in the territory of the U.S.
 
 
In regard to whether the Defendant received unjust enrichment, the laws of the State of California of the U.S. shall be applicable because of the location of Defendant’s headquarters.
  
(b) Judgment
 
 a) As to whether the Defendant has a right to seek for injunction against the use of the Domain Name by the Plaintiff, under the laws of the United States
 
The registration and use of the Domain Name by the Plaintiff falls under 15 U.S.C. §1125(d)(1)(A) regarding the prevention of cyber-squatting and infringes the trademark right of the Defendant. Therefore, the Defendant has the right to seek for injunctive relief under Regulation 15 U.S.C. §1116.
  
b) As to whether the Defendant can seek to have the Domain Name returned to him from the Plaintiff based on its unjust enrichment, under the laws of California
 
Under 15 U.S.C. §1125(d)(1)(A) regarding the prevention of cyber-squatting, the registration and use of the Domain Name by the Plaintiff was illegal; therefore, the Plaintiff may not seek to have the Domain Name returned to him from the Defendant. Similarly, under the laws of California, the Plaintiff may not seek to have the Domain Name returned to him from the Defendant based on its unjust enrichment.
 
c) Conclusion
  
All demands by the Plaintiff against the Defendant should be rejected.
 
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