If you saw Sars.app, what would you assume it’s for?

Probably not the South African Revenue Service.

It’s 2020. There’s a pandemic because of SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19). Someone in China registers the domain name Sars.app.

Why would you assume the person in Chain registered the domain? Probably because of the pandemic.

Unless, of course, you are the taxing authority in South Africa.

South African Revenue Service, or SARS, filed a cybersquatting dispute against the domain name. The organization uses the domain name sars.gov.za.

It argued:

The Respondent was undoubtedly aware of the Complainant’s rights in the SARS mark when the disputed domain name was registered. This is evident from the fact that the disputed domain name incorporates the SARS mark. The SARS mark has acquired a substantial reputation.

Unsurprisingly, World Intellectual Property Organization panelist Matthew Kennedy suggested that perhaps the Chinese registrant had something on his mind other than the taxing authorities in South Africa when he registered the domain:

The Panel considers that an alternative explanation for the registration of the disputed domain name is apparent but has somewhat surprisingly not been addressed by the Complainant, namely that SARS has a widely-known dictionary meaning…

…the Panel considers it a matter of public record that a novel coronavirus outbreak was reported in China, where the Respondent is resident, shortly before the disputed domain name was registered in January 2020….

Kennedy denied the complaint.

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