(WIPO Domain Name Panel and KGer Grisons)
The plaintiff, the travel and tourist office of St. Moritz, in addition to the naming rights, has several registered trademarks with the characteristic component "St. Moritz" as well as the domain name "stmoritz.ch". It operates a website with information about St. Moritz and tourist services under this. On 24 September 1998, the DFL (defendant), based in the UAE, had registered the domain name "stmoritz.com" with an American registration authority. The website operated under this domain offered information and services on many Swiss and European tourism destinations, including St. Moritz.
Two arbitration proceedings at WIPO filed by the plaintiff against this domain name were dismissed in recognition of a worthwhile offering of information about such tourist destinations and lack of proof of bad faith registration and use of the name in the years 2000 and 2004. With its legal action of 9 September 2009 to the KGer Grisons, the plaintiff now seeks to prohibit the defendant from using the names of St. Moritz and Stmoritz for tourism services and it would be obliged to make a declaration to transfer the domain name "stmoritz.com" to the plaintiff.
The court upheld the claim, among other things, on the grounds that "the content (information, services and product) of the contested website of the defendant [...] from the aspect of appropriating the name is completely irrelevant". The domain name labels the website which can be called up under it and in this labeling function is comparable with a name, a company or a trademark. Therefore, anyone claiming an internationally renowned place name as a domain name without their own reference violates the naming rights of the community of the same name as well as of the tourist association using the name.