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Kevin Ham Wins Reverse Domain Name Hijacking Charge

Famous domain investor wins UDRP and RDNH charge.

Kevin Ham’s company Vertical Axis has won a charge for Reverse Domain Name Hijacking (RDNH) against The Realty Alliance, Inc.

The Realty Alliance, Inc. filed a UDRP case against Vertical Axis for the domain name RealtyAlliance.com. In its case, Reality Alliance claimed it had trademark rights in “Realty Alliance” because it was incorporated in Delaware in 1997 and registered with Texas Secretary of State in 2006.

The arbitration panel found that The Realty Alliance did not have any common law trademark rights in the name:

As stated by the Respondent, the only evidence relied upon by the Complainant in support of its assertion that it has “employed the Mark continuously and conspicuously throughout the country and internationally since 1997” is a 1997 news article announcing the formation of an alliance of real estate brokers under that name.

Indeed, the complainant’s failure to even set forth basic evidence of a common law trademark resulted in a finding of RDNH by the panel:

From the failure of the Complainant to put forward any evidence that the alleged mark has been used by the Complainant in such a way as to become distinctive of its services the Panel infers that the Complainant was aware, when it filed the Complaint, that there is no such evidence. It follows that this Complaint was brought in bad faith in an attempt to harass the Respondent and that; accordingly, the Complainant has attempted to engage in Reverse Domain Name Hijacking.

Vertical Axis was represented by Ari Goldberger, of Esqwire.com Law Firm. The panelists on the case were The Hon. Neil Brown QC, Judge James A. Carmody and Alan L. Limbury Esq.

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  1. RKB

    Hopefully they will also win Harmony.com UDRP soon. I really feel that complainants are abusing UDRP process when they go after generic, descriptive or geo domains just to grab these valuable domains from their rightful owners.

  2. mike

    This is no great victory for domainers.
    They have found in favor of the Complainant based on much weaker evidence than this.
    What a joke, if it was average Joe domainer they would have handed it over on a silver platter. Realtyalliance.com is parked page that would surely have been lost by just about anyone else.

    The RDNH is just the cherry on top.

  3. bernard

    Mr Ham has most probably lost the only guy on the earth and the eternity to be interested by his domains.

    Why not simply having sold this domain for about the legal costs? Certainly not worth more.

    Lawyers are like registrars, they are the pick seller of the goldrush.

  4. domain guy

    any bozo that knows trademark law knows that countinous use of the trademark is required to maintain even common law rights.simple deleware incorporation has zero value for trademark rights. in addition texas this backward state whos state registration states that you not only have state trademark rights establishes national rights.
    this is why domainers need to know their trademark laws not just register any domain and hope for the best…a little bit of knowledge goes a long way to level any attempt at a half assed legal action.this udrp was not worth 2k.

  5. Charles M

    Looks like a cyber-squatter won … apparently actively doing business as Realty Alliance for more than a decade isn’t enough to allow an organization to have any claim on its own name. Apparently the pendulum has swung back the wrong way. Justice was not done here. Legal technicalities do not make a decision right. Right is right and wrong is wrong. This is no cause for celebration … just further proof the world is headed in the wrong direction.

    • C.S. Watch

      If a Complainant does not have the intuitive domain name, it is because 1) the domain is a vanity plate on which their business model does not depend, in which case future builders are better possessors, or 2) they’re conniving to steal prestige not won via free market success, in which case consumers are harmed. In this UDRP, ‘realty alliance’ is a generic term that can be used in numerous countries, and they did not even have defensible rights within the US.

      ‘Restraint of trade’ sentiment in favor of a Complainant such as this would be a parochial and nationalistic stance, shortchanging global consumers. And ironically, The Realty Alliance’s business model is literally ‘restraint of trade.’ Their mandate is to force persons selling a home to be yoked to a realtor and pay the steep fee, rather than freely displaying their home on a public MLS to all interested buyers.

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