On July 15, 2011, Activision filed a complaint with the National Arbitration Forum in an attempt to get control of the domain name www.modernwarfare3.com. The website, which uses visuals from Activision’s Modern Warfare 3 game, and which at first glance appears to be related to Modern Warfare, actually directs to users to a site in support of Electronic Arts’ competing Battlefield 3 game. Of late the website has also hosted videos with titles like “Modern Warfare 3 is a Joke.”
The National Arbitration Forum administers the Uniform Domain Dispute Resolution Policy which was established in the late 1990s to protect trademark holders from third parties that registered a domain name that could be construed as being an official source of information. Here, the domain ModernWarfare3.com was registered by an unnamed person on March 26, 2009, via GoDaddy.com—long before Modern Warfare 3 was announced by Activision. In its complaint, Activision argues that the Modern Warfare brand was famous prior to the registration of the ModernWarfare3.com domain name, and at that time the brans was already a highly distinctive and famous trademark that symbolized substantial goodwill. As such, even though Modern Warfare 3 was not yet launched, the brand itself was famous enough to establish Activision’s trademark rights to related domain names.
Under the rules of the UDRP, Activision must establish that the ModernWarfare3.com domain is identical to a trademark it has the rights to, that the person who registered it has no rights to the domain name, and that the individual in fact is using it in bad faith. The first two factors appear to hold in Activision’s favor. As to the third factor of bad faith, Activision’s complaint says that “it appears that the [site owner] supports the game Battlefield from the game developer Electronic Arts,” citing that not only did the domain at one time redirect to the Battlefield website, it also urged visitors to “grow up and forget about Modern Warfare 3 (because it looks just like Modern Warfare 2) and buy Battlefield 3 instead,” all while having the logos and appearance of a Modern Warfare 3 site that Activision says was confusing to consumers. In addition, Activision asserts that the site hosted advertisements, indicating that the unknown owner was profiting from their trademarked brand. Activision is asking that the National Arbitration Forum give it ownership of the domain name immediately. We note that, as of July 20, 2011, the modernwarfare3.com site is no longer loading.