Ownership of debian.community domain

August 7th, 2022

The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), under its Uniform Domain-Name Dispute-Resolution Policy (UDRP), decided that ownership of the debian.community domain should be transferred to the Debian Project.

The appointed panel found that the disputed domain name is identical to a trademark in which the Complainant has rights.

In its decision the panel noted:

[...] the disputed domain name is identical to the DEBIAN mark, which carries a high risk of implied affiliation with the Complainant. [...] Given that the Complainant prominently describes Debian on its homepage as a 'community' and not just an operating system, [the .community] suffix actually reinforces that the disputed domain name will resolve to a site operated or endorsed by [Debian]. The disputed domain name contains no critical or other terms to dispel or qualify that false impression.

The panel went on to observe:

The evidence submitted by the Complainant shows that some posts present the DEBIAN mark together with information about a notorious sex cult, notorious sex offenders, and enslavement of women, and one post displays photographs of physical branding allegedly on victims’ genital skin. The segues from information about the Complainant to this type of information are contrived and the scale of this information is not merely incidental on the website. In the Panel’s view, these posts are deliberately intended to create a false association between the DEBIAN trademark and offensive phenomena and thereby tarnish the mark.

and further concluded that:

nothing in the Debian Social Contract or elsewhere indicates that the Complainant has ever consented to the type of false associations with its mark published by the respondent on its website. The Respondent points out that the DEBIAN mark is registered only in respect of software. However, while the relevant posts attack members of the Complainant who make available DEBIAN software, rather than the software itself, these posts use the mark in combination with the disputed domain name in a way that intentionally seeks to create false associations with the mark itself.

Debian is committed to the proper use of its trademarks subject to its trademark policy and will continue to take enforcement action when that policy is violated.

The content of debian.community has now been replaced by a page explaining the situation and answering further questions.

WIPO's full decision text is available online: https://www.wipo.int/amc/en/domains/search/case.jsp?case_id=58273

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