Panel blasts law firm for either trying to mislead panel or being “inexcusably careless”.
Last year a World Intellectual Property Organization panelist called a case represented by law firm Novagraaf Nederland a “flagrant abuse” of the UDRP. In that case, the law firm told the panel that its client had been in business from 1994 but didn’t disclose that it had just recently changed its name to reflect the domain name at issue. Novagraaf Nederland also stated that its client, a big bank, had a greater right to the domain name than the individual owner.
Fast forward less than 12 months and the same law firm is getting whipped by a WIPO panel again. In fact, the panel decided the case was reverse domain name hijacking and that the legal representative should be censured.
The case was filed on behalf of CoÃ¶peratie UnivÃ© U.A. for the domain name Unive.com. The complainant said it registered the domain name in 2000 but accidentally let it expire in 2010, and the respondent registered the domain name upon expiration.
But that’s not what happened. It let the domain name expire a long time ago, and the respondent was the registrant since at least 2003.
Furthermore, the complainant submitted evidence in the form of an email exchange with the respondent prior to the UDRP filing in which the respondent claimed this early ownership. This correspondence had been forwarded to the law firm, so the panel says it was “on notice” about the registration dates.
As a result, the panel writes:
The Panel is mindful of the concurring opinion in Credit Europe, supra, a case featuring the same professional representative as the Complainant’s representative in the present case. The panelist who wrote the concurring opinion, a member of the Panel in the present case, noted therein that the complainant in that case had misled the panel inter alia in its description of the facts upon which the complaint was based and called for “the limited censure available to the Panel under the Policy and the Rules, if only to deter similar conduct in future.â€ The Panel in the present case considers that it is lamentable that the Complainant’s representative appears to have failed to address these concerns and thus has brought two cases under the Policy within a year in which there is a real prospect that it has either deliberately sought to mislead the panel or has been inexcusably careless in the manner in which it has pled its client’s case. The Panel is unanimous that this deserves censure.
Novagraaf Nederland is an intellectual property law firm, by the way.
The respondent was represented by John Berryhill.