Previously, the author Jeanette Winterson and actress Julia Roberts (and others) succeeded in recovering domain names under the WIPO procedure, without needing to show registered trade marks for their names. However, in the case of Sting.com, it was not possible to show “bad faith” on the part of the registrant. Also, it was noted that the word was a common English word.
The action was brought by Gordon Sumnar, better known by his professional name Sting, against a US citizen, Michael Urvan. Sumnar asserted that Urvan had made no use of the domain name for several years and then approached Sumnar, offering to sell it to him for $25,000. Urvan argued that he had used the name Sting publicly on the internet for at least 8 years and he had registered the domain name Sting.com in 1995, 5 years before the dispute began. Urvan said it was Sumnar that approached him initially.
The panel said that Sumnar did not, in its opinion, have rights in Sting as a trade mark or service mark. Unlike other cases, Sting is a common word. Urvan used the name as an on-line nickname and registered with this name in numerous internet gaming services. Although the panel did not feel that Urvan had any rights in the name as such, it was not satisfied that he had registered and used the name in bad faith. Sumnar could show no evidence to support his claim that Urvan initiated an attempt to sell the name for $25,000. Urvan admitted offering to sell, but said this was done after Sumnar solicited that offer.