P&G launches a completely new product called Swash. Here’s the backstory on the domain name.
Remember last year when Procter & Gamble was found guilty of reverse domain name hijacking in a case over Swash.com?
The company claimed to have a long running product by the Swash name that had generated $40 million in sales over the past four years. When pressed, it admitted that it had only sold $60,000 worth of Swash items over that four year period.
Marchex, the respondent in the case, owned the domain well before P&G was using the brand. The panel found P&G guilty of reverse domain name hijacking.
P&G bought the domain name from Marchex after losing the case.
Why was the consumer goods giant suddenly interested in Swash.com in 2013, nearly a decade after Marchex acquired the domain name? Did it really have to do with P&G’s existing Swash brand?
Nope. Attorney John Berryhill had a theory that he suggested to the UDRP panel:
The Respondent draws to the Panel’s attention the existence of a more recent trademark application for the word SWASH filed by the Complainant in September 2011 on an intent-to-use basis, the opposition period for which expired shortly before the launch of this Complaint. The specification of goods reads “An appliance for domestic use in the nature of a garment steamer for the purpose of removing wrinkles and odors from clothing and linen”. The Respondent contends that the Complainant’s motivation for seeking to obtain the disputed domain name stems from this new commercial interest in respect of the mark and owes nothing to any prior goodwill.
Now we have confirmation. Berryhill was exactly right — P&G’s newly-found interest in the domain name had to do with an entirely new product.
Swash.com is live, promoting a garment steamer that removes wrinkles and odors from clothing. Just like what the 2011 intent-to-use trademark application suggested. The appliance is being offered in a partnership with Whirlpool Corporation.
So now we have a full conclusion: P&G lied and misled the panel in an effort to steal the domain name Swash.com. It ended up paying dearly for it.
Here’s what I don’t understand: P&G did this to avoid paying $30,000 (less after negotiating) for a domain name to launch a major product partnership?
It surely paid at least $30,000 to buy the domain once it lost the case. Perhaps Marchex could use some of the money it received from selling the domain to buy a Swash for the office. I have to admit, it looks pretty cool.