Law firm files “baseless” case to get four letter domain name.
I really hope a new law firm that seeks to “break with routine thinking in the legal industry” doesn’t have an intellectual property practice.
Denmark lawfirm IUNO Advokatpartnerselskab has lost a UDRP for the IUNO.com and has been found guilty of reverse domain name hijacking.
The domain name was registered in 2000; the law firm just opened its doors this year.
Panelist Tony Willoughby had some harsh words for IUNO.
In formulating the Complaint the Complainant has fallen into serious error.
The Complainant appears to have taken the view that registering a domain name for the purpose of selling it is of itself in some way reprehensible, when of course it is not (at least absent an intent to sell the owner of an identical or confusingly similar trademark, or a competitor thereof). There is a lawful trade in domain names running into millions of dollars per annum. If the Panel has understood the Complainant’s evidence correctly, it appears that when the Complainant attempted to purchase the Domain Name online, the price demanded for the Domain Name increased from about USD 10,000 to USD 50,000. No doubt, when the Complainant disclosed its identity, the Respondent appreciated that a higher sum could be demanded of an entity having a name identical to the Domain Name. Whatever the reason, there is nothing to demonstrate that this is behaviour meriting a finding of bad faith under the Policy. Pricing a domain name at the highest level the registrant believes it can encourage a purchaser to pay is not of itself objectionable absent evidence of targeting a particular trademark owner.
Responding to the domain owner’s allegation of reverse domain name hijacking, IUNO responded that:
…the Complainant seeks to stress the fact that the Complaint is not an aggressive attempt to obtain what is potentially a valuable name for its new business. The Complainant genuinely finds that the Respondent has no legal rights or legitimate interests in respect of the Domain Name and only holds it passively, now with the purpose of selling it to the Complainant for an amount in excess of out-of-pocket expenses.
Willoughby concludes that IUNO either brought the case in bad faith or is inept:
The Complainant is a law firm and the Panel finds it difficult to believe that a law firm would intentionally set out to abuse the process in this way. Equally, the Panel finds it astonishing that a law firm could produce such a fundamentally flawed Complaint.
I particularly appreciate how he spells out the exact hardships IUNO brought on the domain owner by filing the case:
(b) ought to have been aware that to launch it in this form would put the Respondent to unnecessary and irrecoverable expense;
(c) ought to have been aware that false allegations of bad faith necessarily give rise to concern and distress on the part of the person falsely accused;
(d) ought to have been aware that if the Complainant had succeeded, the Respondent would have been wrongfully deprived of the Domain Name.