On July 25, 2012, a three-member WIPO panel denied a complaint by the Seminole Tribe of Florida for SeminoleCasino.com, SeminoleGaming.com, and CasinoSeminole.com.
Envision IPsuccessfully represented the Respondent in this case. The Panel held that the Complainant failed to "establish that SEMINOLE CASINO was a distinctive identifier in the marketplace [as of the domain name registration dates], or that the Complainant was engaged in plans or activities to make it one, much less that the Respondent was aware of those plans." Thus, bad faith registration and use by the Respondent was not found.
The Complainant waited well over a decade (~14-15 years) before bringing an action over these domain names. While laches is not a recognized defense under the UDRP, the Panel held "the Complainant’s burden to establish bad faith is made more difficult, as an evidentiary matter, by the passage of time since the events surrounding the registration of the Domain Names."
It will be interesting to see how the laches defense evolves over time as cases such as these become more common, where an alleged trademark owner waits an abnormally long time before bringing suit. At some point, there must be a limit to how long a UDRP claim can be made against an domain owner.
Full-text of the WIPO decision can be read here.