The domain name RonPaul.com will remain with a group of dedicated grassroots supporters, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) has decided.
Ron Paul had filed a cybersquatting complaint in early February 2013, calling on the UN agency to expropriate RonPaul.com from his supporters. This week, WIPO rejected Ron Paul’s complaint, ruling that his supporters were running a political fan-site and thus had legitimate rights to the domain name.
RonPaul.com was created in 2008 as a fan-site in support of Ron Paul and his ideas. Over the years, the supporters running the site invested more than $100,000 into the website and its operations. They helped raise millions of dollars for Ron Paul’s presidential campaigns and received several thank-you notes from Ron Paul’s associates and staff members. But in January 2013, shortly after retiring from Congress, Ron Paul expressed regret over not owning RonPaul.com. He went on to file a complaint with WIPO asking it to confiscate the domain name from his supporters without compensation.
In his complaint, Ron Paul mischaracterized his supporters’ efforts, alleging that the website was a sham created only to sell merchandise. That claim was easily disproved by the thank-you notes the supporters had received from Ron Paul’s associates. Ron Paul also claimed that the supporters had only bought RonPaul.com so they could one day sell it to him at an exorbitant price. The evidence showed the opposite: The supporters had sacrificed everything and put five years of hard work into the website out of admiration and support of Ron Paul.
It is not known why Ron Paul decided to use WIPO, a UN agency, in an attempt to confiscate the domain name instead of simply asking his supporters to donate it to him. In a March 19 interview with TIME, Ron Paul supporter Tim Martin stated that the supporters at RonPaul.com would have handed over the domain name for free if they felt Paul had shown that “he honors and appreciates our hard work and support.”
After the decision was announced, Martin said, “We’re glad to put this traumatic experience behind us. Our team of liberty lovers will continue to promote and advance Ron Paul’s message of liberty, prosperity and peace at RonPaul.com and all over the Internet.”
Megan Stiles, a spokesperson for Ron Paul, said, “While the ruling is disappointing, Dr. Paul is excited to launch his new personal website on another domain in the coming weeks.”
The supporters at RonPaul.com are represented by Booth Sweet LLP of Cambridge, MA.