Owners of FirstDibs.com and 1stDibs.com duke it out in court
Thursday, July 12th, 2012
1stDibs.com says owner of FirstDibs.com is cybersquatting.
The registrants of FirstDibs.com and 1stDibs.com are embroiled in a court battle, with the latter saying that FirstDibs.com infringes its trademarks.
The owner of FirstDibs.com is seafood wholesaler Seafood Supply Company of Dallas, Texas. 1stDibs.com is an online retailer offering upscale home decor, jewelry, and real estate.
In a lawsuit (pdf) filed in New York late last month, 1stDibs.com said it first informed Seafood Supply that it was infringing on its mark back in 2008. 1stDibs.com also claimed that Seafood Supply didn’t register the domain until 2004, four years after 1stDibs.com began using its “1stDibs” mark in commerce.
But in its own lawsuit (pdf) over the matter (for declaratory judgment), just filed in Texas, Seafood Supply says it registered the domain name in 1997, which was before 1stDibs.com was registered.
Historical whois records from DomainTools seem to verify Seafood Supply’s claim, although the domain has bounced around and apparently expired at some point. The oldest historical record from 2001 shows “CLARK HOUSE INC” as the registrant, although the contact is with Seafood Supply Company. That record shows a 1997 creation date. The domain is then transferred to someone in New York for a few years before landing back under Seafood Supply’s control in 2004 with a 2004 record creation date.
So why now, in 2012, is 1stDibs.com following up on its 2008 demands with a lawsuit?
According to 1stDibs.com, Seafood Supply changed FirstDibs.com to a parked domain earlier this year. It has since forwarded the domain to its Seafood web site.
Here’s my opinion based solely on the two lawsuits filings and historical whois information:
* 1stDibs.com had no reason to complain back in 2008. 1stDibs.com and FirstDibs.com are two completely different domains owned by businesses in two different industries. And, FirstDibs.com was originally registered prior to 1stDibs.com. Also, 2008 was pretty late to claim infringement.
* The only rationale for filing a lawsuit now is that the domain was allegedly parked earlier this year and showed ads related to 1stDibs.com’s business. First, it’s unclear if Seafood Supply parked the domain or if its registrar did. There’s a good chance it was the registrar. Second, would a very short period of parking mean a domain name registered in 1997 should be transferred to a business that obviously settled on 1stDibs.com because FirstDibs.com was taken?