Decisions: Is There a Meme for Losing a UDRP Complaint?

Popular meme-generator Cheezeburger Inc. filed a UDRP complaint against rival site WeKnowMemes over its primary domain name WeKnowMemes.com with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) citing infringement of one of its registered trademarks. It was up to WIPO to determine if the Complainant actually had rights to the disputed domain name or if the UDRP complaint was a thinly veiled bid to take down a competitor.

Cheezeburger filed the UDRP complaint primarily on the grounds that the disputed domain name was identical or confusingly similar to its registered mark KNOW YOUR MEME. Additionally, the fact that both parties provide similar content might confuse Internet users searching for the Complainant’s content.

To clarify, both sites are active generators of “memes,” which are broadly defined as “concepts that spread from person to person via the Internet.” Memes can take the form of videos, images, written content, virtually anything that can be shared by Internet users. Cheezburger Inc. is most famous for its “lolcats” memes and is widely seen as one of the foremost meme producers on the web.

WeKnowMemes.com, though, is also a popular page, snagging almost 200,000 unique visitors in the month of February, according to Compete.com. The Respondent defended itself by saying that the established mark is made of generic terms and expressly states that it does not cover all uses of the term “meme.

In the end, the WIPO Panelist denied the complaint. It said that the question of whether or not the domain name is identical or confusingly similar to the established mark is a close call but it found that the Respondent had a legitimate interest in the domain and that it did not have a bad faith intention in registering and using it. This case highlights the fact that a UDRP complaint is not the appropriate avenue for attempting to quell a rival site, especially without strong evidence.

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