Company filed cybersquatting complaint in abuse of Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP).
Master Call Connections, LLC has been found to have engaged in reverse domain name hijacking in one of the most egregious UDRP filings in recent memory.
The company filed the UDRP against MasterCall, Inc.
MasterCall, Inc. operated for many years. In 2010, it dissolved its business but continued operating under the name MasterCall name for consulting services.
This, in and of itself, means the domain wasn’t registered in bad faith.
Master Call Connections tried to buy the domain name. When it didn’t get the price it wanted, it filed a UDRP — explaining that it made a $5,000 offer before learning about the existence of UDRP. It said the domain owner requested $15,000 without giving any reason, and that the domain owner isn’t using the domain.
But that was only half the story. The rest of the story, which Master Call Connections conveniently left out of its filing, came to light when the domain owner responded to the allegations.
It turns out the parties negotiated twice to buy the domain name. And the domain name owner gave an excellent explanation for why it wanted the price he did: he was still using the domain name for email for his consulting business.
In finding that Master Call Connections, LLC (represented by attorney Mikhail Lezhnev) filed the complaint in abuse of the policy, panelist David J. Steele wrote:
Here, the evidence shows that Complainant was aware Respondent was using the domain name in connection with Respondent’s consulting business. Specifically, the evidence includes multiple emails during the 2007 and 2013/2014 negotiations that made clear to Complainant that Respondent was using the domain name in connection with its ongoing consulting business, and that Respondent desired to continue using certain emails on the domain name even if a sale to Complainant were consummated. Further, Complainant’s Exhibit 4 confirms what Complainant already knew from its multiple contacts with Respondent during these negotiations that Respondent was using the domain name in connection with its bona fide offering of its consulting services.
Complainant conveniently ignored this information when preparing its Complaint and instead, made misstatements to the Panel including, “[t]he website [available at mastercall.com] is inactive, lacks content, and appears to have no legitimate purpose” despite its knowledge of, and plain evidence to the contrary.
Similarly, Complainant explained to the Panel that “Respondent refused [Complainant’s $5,000 offer] and demanded $15,000 without providing any legitimate reason for [Respondent’s] retention of the domain name.” The emails exchanged between the Parties, which are attached as exhibits to Respondent’s Reply, make clear that during numerous good-faith negotiations between the Parties, Respondent was making a business decision regarding selling its domain name. Respondent further explained, generally, that it would have been expensive and time consuming to change its domain name. Respondent explained in one email,
“We have further assessed the impact in selling our domain name. We have been in business since 1993 and much of our business through referrals, many of whom find us via the internet. We have investment in printed materials such as business cards, stationary as well as yard signs. In addition, we have to get the word out to our real estate agent base and they will have to update their materials that they provide to their sellers. In short, it will not be an easy transition.”
This is far cry from “… without providing any legitimate reason for [Respondent’s] retention of the domain name.”
Of course, given the facts of this case, Respondent need not have provided any reason for not selling the subject domain name. But here, Respondent did provide its reasons yet, Complainant failed to accurately convey that fact to the Panel. Complainant likely chose to inaccurately convey that fact to the Panel to bolster its case. Complainant omitted these important facts from its Complaint, notwithstanding its certification that “the information contained in [the Complaint] is to the best of Complainant’s knowledge complete and accurate. (emphasis added).