In February, Nintendo of America filed a cybersquatting complaint against the owner of WiiU.com with the World Intellectual Property Organization, in what seemed like a slam dunk case for the video game company.
A decision in WIPO Case Number D2013-0322 was posted to WIPO’s website Saturday and Nintendo has lost.
The domain, which matches the name of Nintendo’s latest video game console the “Wii U”, will stay with its current owner.
Now, if the company wants to own WiiU.com (WHOIS), it may have to write a big check in order to acquire it.
What’s interesting is days before Nintendo originally filed its complaint back in February, WiiU.com was set for auction on the domain name auction marketplace SnapNames. However, once the case was filed with WIPO, the auction listing was removed.
If Nintendo opted to take the auction route, it may have paid the same price as the UDRP fees, had it beat out other bidders for the name. It’s possible it may have even paid less, as other bidders may have avoided the name fearing it would be turned over in a dispute.
Today, WiiU.com is parked at SmartName and displays sponsored ads, many of which are for Nintendo’s products, as you can see in the screenshot below.
In related news, Sony doesn’t own Playstation4.com (WHOIS) nor has the company filed any kind of dispute.
Microsoft filed a complaint over XboxOne.com in late May and added another complaint over Xbox1.com in early June. Decisions have not been reached in either case.
In 2006, Nintendo reportedly paid a substantial amount of money for Wii.com. Because of a non-disclosure agreement, the price was never publicly disclosed, but some put the price tag anywhere between $5,000 – $250,000 and over $3 million.
Nintendo announced the launch of the Wii U back in 2011 without owning the name. It didn’t file trademark applications until August 2011.
UPDATE 1: Details of the decision by the three-member panel have now been published online. While the panel found that the domain is “identical or confusingly similar” to Nintendo’s WII U trademark, it also concluded that Nintendo failed to prove that the respondent had no rights to the name. The respondent provided evidence the name was registered in January 2004 in order to establish a website for a “We Invest in You” business venture. (You can read the full decision here.)
UPDATE 2: Nintendo told Eurogamer.net it is looking at other legal options. “Nintendo has a strong history of protecting against infringement of our intellectual property rights and we are continuing to review our legal options. This decision does not impact Nintendo’s ability to enforce against violations concerning intellectual property.”
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(Image of Ninja Gaiden for Wii U via Nintendo.com)