Consulting firm fails to trump Swede’s domain name claim

A Swedish man has successfully beaten back repeated attempts by Mercer, a prominent multinational consulting firm, to claim a Swedish internet domain name to which he has the rights.

Back in 2003, the 50-year-old resident of Eslöv in southern Sweden registered the domain name with the intention of using it to establish an interior design supply store.

And for the past five years, the Mercer consulting firm, with over 17000 employees in 41 countries worldwide, has attempted to usurp the domain name, arguing that the meaning of the term ‘mercer’ (or merchant) features a more significant connection to the nature of their enterprise.

The Swedish branch of the company, Mercer AB, employs 80 people in three offices around the country.

On July 11th, Mercer AB lodged an appeal with the Swedish Internet Infrastructure Foundation, the group responsible for assigning internet domain names ending in ‘.se’, to have the domain name transferred out of the hands of the 50-year-old small business owner.

In arguing for having the name reassigned, the company pointed out that the man had never made use of the domain name nor was there a homepage connected with the site.

The 50-year-old defended his rights to the domain name by arguing that, in traditional usage, ‘mercer’ is associated with a peddler of luxury textiles and therefore entirely relevant to the nature of the business he intended to conduct.

In addition, he explained that, since he is already the CEO of a manufacturing company, he has not yet had the time to get his the new business up and running.

On Monday, the Swedish internet infrastructure body dismissed the claims of the multinational, stating that in 2005 the company had registered their name as Mercer Human Resources Consulting AB.

According to group’s assessment, the word ‘mercer’ did not feature prominently enough in the consulting firm’s title to substantiate a claim to the domain name.

The body also judged that the Eslöv resident had registered the domain name in good faith and with genuine intentions to make use of it in his business, something which the man confirmed in an interview with the Skånska Dagbladet newspaper.

“Of course I’ll use it. I didn’t buy the domain with the intention of selling it and I had no idea there was a company called Mercer at the time,” he told the newspaper.

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