Two sides speak about Ad.com lawsuits.
Here’s the latest on the news Domain Name Wire broke earlier today about Marcos Guillen suing Directi/Skenzo for backing out of its $1.4M purchase of Ad.com.
First, Oversee.net (or one of its subsidiaries) also sued Directi/Skenzo for breaching the contract. That case has now been combined with Guillen’s case against the company. (Oversee.net is the parent company of auction organizer Moniker.)
In a statement released to Domain Name Wire, Oversee.net spokesperson Mason Cole explained:
It’s unfortunate this step had to be taken. It’s very important that all parties in an auction transaction — buyer, seller and auctioneer — as well as the auction process and auction laws, be respected. We’re continuing to ACTIVELY work with all parties and would very much like to resolve this outside the courts.
We also received an official explanation from Marcos Guillen, the “seller” of ad.com. Here’s what he had to say:
I don’t see this as a trademark issue. AOL’s claim of a trademark in a domain name I have owned since 1997, and I’ve been using it before for pay links and advertising, years before AOL claims of first use: example 1 example 2
AOL filed their trademark application after I agreed to list the domain name with Moniker for auction in September 2008. The ad.com auction was announced by Moniker on September 5, 2008…
Then, AOL rushed to file their trademark application on September 24, 2008, because the TRAFFIC auction was held on September 25, 2008. That is not a mere coincidence. They filed their application a day before the auction, and long after I had listed the domain name. The domain name did not sell at that auction, so it went to the next TRAFFIC auction.
Ask yourself how it is that I have had this domain name since 1997, and then in 2008, the day before an announced auction, a trademark application is filed by a company which claims it has “goodwill” in a mark that does not even correspond to a domain name they have? Why would they be using, as a trademark, something that would send their customers somewhere else? It doesn’t make sense. If you have a valuable business at automobiles.com, but did not own or operate auto.com, then why would you be branding and advertising as “auto.com”? That would be stupid.
The bidding war at TRAFFIC was exciting, but after that Skenzo started dragging their feet. They where supposed to pay 5 days later, but they didn’t. One week later they got an email from AOL lawyers, and everybody freaked out. AOL lawyers did a great job mudding the waters, they claimed that they have contacted me before (they had not), and Skenzo probably thought that they would be better off facing me in court than AOL. All the time, the AOL trademark application remained refused by the USPTO.
There is no trademark. There is a refused registration application filed under very curious circumstances, a screenshot made for the purpose of the application, no evidence at all of any common law rights, and no notice of a claim to me prior to listing the domain name for auction.
I believe Skenzo will come back to their senses now that the Hotels.com decision is out and the USPTO, on their own initiative, withdrew the allowance count for the AOL TM application. Otherwise I’ll have to think that the problem here is not really the trademarks, but Skenzo unwillingness to honor their agreement.