Wow: check out this panelist’s scathing finding of Reverse Domain Name Hijacking
Thursday, July 5th, 2012
Panelist goes the extra mile in explanation of reverse domain name hijacking.
UDRP panelists are usually reluctant to affirm that a complainant attempted reverse domain name hijacking.
But in some cases the facts are so damning that the panelist goes the extra mile to explain why the case is so egregious. This usually happens when the panelist believes he or she was lied to.
That’s the case with Houston Putnam Lowry’s decision for MamaMayI.com.
The case was brought by three purported parties — “Jessica Perkins and James Perkins – Mama May I, LLC”.
It’s worth reprinting all of Lowry’s decision for finding reverse domain name hijacking:
This Panel does not normally independently investigate or confirm the parties’ allegations in a UDRP proceeding. Such matters are supposed to be decided on the papers. Additional evidence was gathered here solely because of contradictions in Complainant’s submission.
This Panel does not normally make arguments for a party. It is each party’s obligation to present its own case. Respondent failed to make a response in this case, which raises some questions about Respondent’s motivations.
However, there were substantial questions in the Panel’s mind after reviewing the Complaint and related documents. The Panel did some on-line investigation, which lead to the Panel’s conclusion Complainant was abusing the UDRP process. The Panel has an inherent obligation to protect the integrity of the UDRP process. The Panel is reminded of the old maxim “Equity delights to do justice and not by halves.”
The Panel could have requested a very pointed clarification by Complainant. There were three possible outcomes to such a request:
1. Everything could have been clarified, which is a low probability outcome.
2. Complainant would not have responded, leaving the Panel to write this decision anyway.
3. Complainant would have withdrawn the case.
To protect the integrity of the UDRP process, the third outcome is not acceptable. Therefore, the Panel has written this decision in an effort to provide guidance about unacceptable conduct for future UDRP parties.
It is very clear to the Panel what happened. Jessica Perkins has a small on-line store with gross revenues of less than $4,000/year. Her husband is a “computer guy”…which is why she probably has an on-line store. They eventually decided they wanted the mamamayi.com domain name to help promote her business. All of this is laudable so far.
The problem was Respondent registered the domain name years ago (but wasn’t really using it). James Perkins made repeated offers to purchase the mamamayi.com domain name from Respondent. Respondent kept “hondling” James Perkins, even to the point of agreeing to sell the domain name and then backing out. James Perkins even offered to “throw in” another domain name…ToddlerStore.com (which is what they may have originally planned to use).
Respondent’s actions are certainly frustrating and might even be reprehensible. However, they are not the sort of thing the UDRP is designed to address.
James Perkins decided he knew how to shortcut the process and force Respondent to give up the domain name. They filed a trademark application for an apparently non-existent company with the same name as the domain name they wanted to capture. The application was eventually granted because the USPTO does not normally check for a registrant’s existence. Then a trademark infringement complaint was filed with GoDaddy (which Complainant provided to the Panel).
After that was presumably denied, this UDRP complaint was filed. The combined filing fees were less than the amount Respondent was demanding for the domain name (assuming Respondent ever actually settled on an amount or would honor its agreement).
The Panel cannot predict how a truthful application might have been decided. The Panel can only decide what is presented…in this case, a bundle of half-truths and apparently a couple of lies.
Pursuant to Policy ¶16(e), the Panel finds this matter was brought in bad faith and is an attempt at a Reverse Domain Name hijacking.
This is quite interesting. Lowry wanted to make an example of the complainants. He was worried if he called the complainants out on their “lies” by requesting more information, then they’d withdraw the case and he wouldn’t be able to write about it.
Also interesting is that, based on Facebook messages submitted by the complainant, the two parties did have a deal for the domain. But one of the complainants originally argued he couldn’t possibly pay $500 for the domain. Now he has spent about $1,500 to file this complaint.