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Media Conglomerate Loses Two gTLDs

Turkey's preeminent media giant DOGAN Holding lost two domain names of hurriyet.net and milliyet.org upon panel decision of WIPO.

In hurriyet.net case, the media giant claimed that Hurriyet (a Turkish word meaning liberty, freedom, or independence) is the most distinctive element and title of its principal publication and is the name by which it is, and has for many years, been widely known throughout Turkey and that DOGAN Holding is the owner of several national and international trademark registrations. DOGAN Holding further argued that the domain name in question is identical to its name and principal trademark, that the respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the domain name, and that none of the examples of rights and legitimate interests set out in paragraph 4(c) of the Uniform Dispute Resolution Policy is applicable. Dogan Holding further stated that it has not granted any permission to the respondent to use its trademark. Finally, DOGAN Holding contended that the domain name was registered and is being used in bad faith.

The respondent in this case was a distinguished scientist, a professor of radiology at the Istanbul University Faculty of Medicine, who has published many scientific articles in the field of radiology. He is also a medical historian, and a philatelist, being a member of the Turkish Philately Society. In its defense, the respondent focused on the fact that the word HURRIYET is an ordinary Turkish word meaning liberty, a word which is capable of being used and which has been used in a wide variety of contexts having nothing whatever to do with the media giant. The respondent added that he has rights and legitimate interests in respect of the domain name in question and stated that he had acquired the domain name for use in connection with his Liberty Postal History exhibit, an exhibit which he will be displaying at the National Stamp Exhibition due to take place in Istanbul.

In its decision, the panel concluded that DOGAN Holding has legitimate and well-established trademark rights to the word HURRIYET and that the respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the domain name. Additionally, the panel found that the Complainant had not satisfied the panel that the domain name was registered and was being used in bad faith. Thus, it denied the Complaint.

In other case the disputed domain name was milliyet.net, registered by a Turkish national who actually runs a network called Internet Amele Birligi (Internet Worker Union), a non-profit cyber organization.

In this dispute, DOGAN Holding claimed again that it is the holder of various design trademarks, as well as of the international word mark MILLIYET, and that it has been the legal owner of the domain name milliyet.com since April 1996 and of the domain name milliyet.com.tr since October 15, 1996. Dogan Holding also claimed that the respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the domain name in question and that the respondent had registered and used the domain name in bad faith as stipulated in paragraph 4(b) of the Policy.

The respondent, on the other hand, contended that milliyet means nationality. The words nationality, nationalism, and nationalist are important words for Turkish people and the word Milliyet is common and widely used not only in the Turkish language, but also in other languages such as Arabic, Iranian, and Urdu. The respondent has been using the domain name since 2000 for non-commercial purposes.

In its decision, the panel reached the same conclusion on the same grounds as in the hurriyet.net case and denied the complaint.

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