Arbitrator faults non-profit for harassing domain owner.
Palo Alto-based non-profit Urban Logic, Inc. has been found guilty of reverse domain name hijacking in a domain dispute at World Intellectual Property Organization.
The non-profit uses UrbanLogic.org. But, as you might expect, a number of people looking for the non-profit or sending an email actually type in UrbanLogic.com.
UrbanLogic.com is owned by Peter Holland, who ran a consulting business at the domain earlier this decade. When he received emails meant for UrbanLogic.org, he kindly forwarded them to the non-profit. But then six years later, things took a turn for the worse and became contentious.
The panel found in favor of the respondent on two key grounds. First, Holland used the domain for many years for a non-competitive business. Second, Urban Logic, Inc. didn’t get a federal trademark registration for its name until 2007 and it is unlikely Holland knew about it prior to registering the domain name.
WIPO arbitrator Richard G. Lyon found these two major flaws to be obvious, and faulted both the non-profit and its lawyers Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP for filing a complaint primarily to harass the domain owner. Lyon wrote:
The fact remains, however, that Respondent has been put to considerable expense, of his own time and paying outside counsel, to defend this proceeding – a proceeding that the Panel has found to be groundless on the face of the Complaint. Disappointment at Respondent’s refusal to transfer the disputed domain name or fear or anger generated by Respondent’s fighting words cannot elide these consequences. Complainant’s counsel and Complainant’s principal (a lawyer himself) should have expected or at least not been surprised by some hyperbole from Respondent, another lawyer, in an exchange in a contentious matter. Lawyers are expected to divorce emotion from their professional judgment. The certification required by paragraph 3(b)(xiv) of the Rules demands no less.
Whatever offense Complainant or its counsel may have taken from Respondent’s fighting words simply does not excuse the filing of the Complaint on the facts as set out in the Complaint. The Panel finds that this was a proceeding “brought primarily to harass the domain-name holderâ€ (Rules, paragraph 15(e)) in an attempt at reverse domain name highjacking.
Read the decision here.