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‘We Buy Ugly Houses’ franchisor wins domain name dispute

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The company behind the slogan "We Buy Ugly Houses" has prevailed in an arbitration proceeding against the previous owner of a domain name that allegedly used the company’s trademark to offer links to competing services.

Dallas-based HomeVestors of America Inc., which claims to be the "No. 1 buyer of houses in the U.S.," has been franchising since 1996 and has about 276 franchises in 37 states. The company claims its franchisees, who are authorized to use the "We Buy Ugly Houses" trademark, have spent more than $100 million advertising the brand.

In August, HomeVestors filed a complaint against the registered owner of the buy-ugly-houses.biz domain with the National Arbitration Forum, which helps resolve domain name disputes in accordance with the policies of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).

HomeVestors alleged the domain name was "confusingly similar" to the "We Buy Ugly Houses" mark, and that the owner didn’t have any rights or "legitimate interests" in the domain name. The owner of the domain name registered and used it bad faith, HomeVestors claimed, offering links to services that compete with those of HomeVestors.

The owner, Stewart Taylor, never responded to the complaint. A panel assigned to the case therefore accepted HomeVestors’ allegations as true and granted the company’s request to transfer the domain name to HomeVestors.

"The frequent infringement of HomeVestors’ trademarks — including both of the ‘We Buy Ugly Houses’ and ‘HomeVestors’ marks — is evidence of the vast goodwill that HomeVestors has built in those marks," said HomeVestors litigation attorney Darin Klemchuk of Klemchuk Kubasta LLP, in a statement

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"In order to protect that goodwill, HomeVestors can and will pursue every infringement of which it becomes aware."

The company said it has submitted another filing for domain name dispute resolution it expects will be decided in the next few weeks.

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