Was reverse domain name hijacking really justified in this case?
I usually gripe about UDRP panels finding in favor of the respondent but not going the extra step of finding the complainant guilty of reverse domain name hijacking.
This morning I read a decision from Czech Arbitration Court in which the panelist found the complainant guilty of reverse domain name hijacking, but I’m not sure it was warranted. Perhaps the panelist just didn’t do a good job of wording his decision.
NanoTemper Technologies GmbH filed the dispute against Robert Eibl.
NanoTemper was born in a student case competition. Ludwig Maximilians University Munich sent out a press release on February 7, 2007, calling one of the presenters “Team NanoTemper”.
The respondent registered the domain name in June of that year.
As a student business competition, the company was not formed right away. It didn’t incorporate, nor did it get any trademarks for NanoTemper, until after the respondent registered the domain name.
The respondent didn’t reply to the case, so we don’t know why he registered the domain name. He definitely has an interest in Nanotechnology. But, given his connection to Germany, there’s a decent chance he had heard of the name because of the student case competition. We’d need more details to rule that out.
NanoTemper said the domain name owner didn’t have rights or legitimate interests in the domain name. The panelist decided to do his own research, visiting Archive.org and determining that a single archive record showed that the respondent created a personal home page at the domain name.
The personal home page said it was “under construction”, had an email at StanfordMEDalumni.org, and had a few pages of content. Had the panelist done just a bit more research, he would have noticed that these pages were merely framing the respondent’s actual website at robert-eibl.de.
One of the complainant’s other arguments was that the respondent was collecting emails meant for the complainant and asked NanoTemper to pay it a handling fee to forward these emails.
So consider these two items: a short-lived framing of the respondent’s personal webpage using Nanotemper.com, and the respondent asking the complainant to pay up for misdirected emails.
Czech Arbitration Court panelist Prof. Dr. Lambert Grosskopf, LL.M.Eur. interpreted these facts and noted:
These evidence indicate that the disputed domain name was used in its original and ordinary meaning as a legitimate noncommercial site and is still used for the purpose of sending and receiving emails.
I struggle with this. What is the “ordinary meaning” of NanoTemper? How does it relate to the respondent using it to frame his personal homepage? And did the respondent use it to send and receive emails other than to collect emails intended for the complainant and asking them to pay up to receive them?
The panelist also notes:
the Respondent had offered the disputed domain name for sale to the Complainant in October 2010 for a price of 20,000 Euros and again to an employee of the Complainant on 14 July 2015 for a price of 50,000 Euros.
There’s little discussion of this in the case. Did the respondent reach out to the complainant or the other way around? Did the respondent say “hey, I’m getting these emails. People are confused. Buy the domain or pay me and I’ll send these emails to you?”
There are a couple other issues in the case. But given the totality of circumstances, I’m not so sure I’d call NanoTemper technologies a reverse domain name hijacker.