German company goes after three letter domain 16 years after it’s registered.
I’ve seen a lot of egregious UDRP cases over the years. This one may take the cake.
Imagine the year is 1995. You register the domain name GEA.com because your personal initials are GEA and you have a business called G.E.A. Design.
Then 14 years later, in 2009, a German company starts complaining that its acronym is GEA and you should sell it the domain name for a nominal amount so it can upgrade its web address from GEAGroup.com. When you refuse, a couple years later — 16 years after you registered the domain name — the company files a UDRP against you.
That’s exactly what happened when GEA Group Aktiengesellschaft filed a case against a California man this year.
The WIPO panelist sums up the bad faith argument fairly nicely:
The Complainant’s suggestion that the Respondent’s failure to display content on the website since 2007 would somehow confuse Internet users is not in the Panel’s view credible. In addition the Panel notes that the Respondent has apparently refused numerous offers for sale of the Disputed Domain Name from various organizations, including from the Complainant, on the legitimate basis that it has used its email address from this website for many years and that to sell it and to have to change email addresses would cause the Respondent considerable disruption and inconvenience. In these circumstances the suggestion by the Complainant of its impression, based on its lawyers’ communications with the Respondent in 2009, that the Respondent would be prepared to sell the Disputed Domain Name for a substantial multiple of the USD 2,000 sum offered by the Complainant, carries little weight.
Overall, the Panel’s view that the Disputed Domain Name has not been registered or used by the Respondent in bad faith is only reinforced by the delay of the Complainant in acting to obtain the Disputed Domain Name. Had the Complainant really been concerned about the Respondent’s illegitimate motives or about damage to its reputation it would not have waited so long after the initial registration in 1995 of the Disputed Domain Name to first communicate with the Respondent (the first communication with the Respondent by the Complainant’s lawyers appears to have occurred in 2009) and a total of 16 years to bring this Complaint.
Needless to say, the panel ruled that the domain owner can keep the domain name. But he should have also found GEA Group Aktiengesellschaft guilty of reverse domain name hijacking.