Company changed its brand last year, filed UDRP to get matching three letter domain name.
A World Intellectual Property Organization panel has found investment advisory firm RVK (formerly R.V. Kuhns & Associates, Inc.) guilty of engaging in reverse domain name hijacking over the domain name RVK.com.
The company, aided by law firm Tonkon Torp LLP, filed a UDRP against domain name owner Gregory Ricks.
According to the decision, the initial complaint said the firm has been using the RVK mark in commerce since April 2000. After Ricks responded that he registered the domain name before that date, RVK amended its complaint with a new affidavit claiming first use in 1992. The 1992 date relied on use in letterhead, and the panel determined that the 1992 date was unfounded.
The panel noted that, even if the 1992 date were proven, there is still no evidence that the respondent was aware of the mark and that he engaged in bad-faith conduct. Ricks claims to have never received correspondence from RVK prior to the November 2014 UDRP filing.
So why did RVK wait so long to go after RVK.com? A quick look at Archive.org suggests that the firm changed its name from R.V. Kuhns & Associates, Inc. to RVK just last year.
The three person panel found RVK engaged in reverse domain name hijacking by filing the proceeding:
Complainant knew that Respondent registered the disputed domain name several months prior to Complainant’s claimed date of first use of its mark. Complainant must therefore have been aware that Respondent cannot have registered the disputed domain name in bad faith, since he cannot possibly have known of Complainant’s as-yet-nonexistent claim to the mark.
Complainant is not saved by its allegation that its trademark use began in 1992. First of all, that allegation was made only in the amended, not original, Complaint, and accordingly the original Complaint was not a good faith filing. Secondly, even if Complainant believed in good faith that its 1992 letter evidenced trademark use, it did not have a basis to believe that Respondent was aware of this letter or of any other evidence of Complainant’s alleged claim of right to the RVK mark.
Accordingly, the Panel finds that Complainant engaged in Reverse Domain Name Hijacking.