“MAR-A-LAGO and THE MAR-A-LAGO CLUB” Trump Fails in Bid for Mar-A-Lago Domain: WIPO Rejects Cybersquatting Claim

In a recent legal dispute, Donald Trump sought control of the mar-a-lago.com domain but was unsuccessful in convincing The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) that it was under the control of a cybersquatter.

The domain had been registered over 25 years ago by Marq Quarius, a Florida resident who claimed to have dedicated the domain as a tribute to deceased pets. Quarius asserted that “Mar” represented his dog, “A” symbolized his duck named after Alfred Hitchcock, and “Lago” was a nickname for his family-rescued cat named “Lag.” Initially conceived as a platform for pet memorials, the website has since transformed into a memorial for Quarius’s mother.

Despite Trump’s representatives arguing that the domain was “confusingly similar” to registered trademarks of MAR-A-LAGO and THE MAR-A-LAGO CLUB, both associated with Trump’s luxury property, WIPO’s Arbitration and Mediation Center ruled against Trump.

The panel noted that Quarius had maintained the domain for non-commercial purposes for over two decades, displaying no attempt to sell it to Trump or others. Even when approached for a purchase, Quarius requested proceeds be donated to charity, a detail supporting his claim.

While WIPO acknowledged skepticism regarding the domain’s origin story, it emphasized that proving intent to cybersquatting would require detailed evidence, which was lacking in Trump’s complaint. Domain industry experts suggest that the Trump Organization may have underestimated the necessity for thorough evidence in such disputes.

Stuart Fuller, the top-level domain services director at Com Laude, observed that larger companies typically engage professional IP firms to ensure meticulous filings, indicating a potential attempt by the Trump Organization to leverage its name to coerce a sale.

The lack of contemporary intellectual property protection services 25 years ago was also highlighted as a factor in this case, emphasizing the evolving nature of domain disputes over time.

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