It is possible that a person acting in good faith has registered a domain name without wanting to infringe the rights of another person to the same name, particularly because the domain name holder also has a right to the name in question.

For example, the owner of a trade name registers a domain name based on that name, while a third party owns a trademark for the same name. Or the owner of the trademark LOTUS for biscuits registers the domain name, even though another company may have a trademark right to the term LOTUS, for example for toilet paper.

Even if the domain name holder has no a priori right to the name, they may be acting in good faith. This would be the case if the operator of a small business who has registered a domain name can demonstrate, through their business plans, correspondence, reports or other evidence, that they genuinely intended to use the name in good faith, without wishing to harm the third party with a right to the name. Domain name registrations justified by a legitimate right to freedom of expression or by legitimate non-commercial considerations could also be considered as having been registered in good faith. 

When faced with a domain name registered in good faith by a third party, the rule "first come, first served" (which gives priority to the first person to register the disputed domain name) will normally apply and the domain name will remain held by its holder in good faith. However, in certain cases, trademark law, copyright law, the law of appellations of origin, or the legal protection of trade or patronymic names may give precedence to the holder of the right concerned, rather than to the holder of the domain name, even if the latter has a right of their own and is acting in good faith.

In the event the domain name could legally be retained by the registrant, it is also conceivable that the domain name holder and the holder of a right to the name used could agree to limit the possible damage that would result for the latter. For example, the website using that domain name could clearly warn the visitor that it is not the website of the owner of the competing trademark or trade name and that it has no commercial relationship with this owner. The domain name holder could also agree with the competing right holder that it will not supply consumers in the State where the competing trademark or trade name is protected.

Registration of a domain name by a person acting in bad faith: cybersquatting.

Last update
30 June 2021