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Judge orders Verisign to transfer CostaRica.com domain name

Valuable CostaRica.com domain name will be transferred to prior registrant.

A United States District Judge has ordered Verisign to transfer the domain name CostaRica.com to its previous owners, who allege the domain name was stolen.

The plaintiffs in the case said the domain name was stolen from their Melbourne IT account in the middle of 2015. The thief did not change the name servers, so the owners didn’t realize the domain name was stolen until much later.

The case was filed last year as an in rem lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Virginia, where .com registry Verisign is based. The alleged thief did not respond to the dispute, so the judge granted the plaintiff’s Motion for Default Judgment.

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      • John Berryhill says

        The UDRP works fine for stolen names, so long as the elements of the UDRP are satisfied (trademark / no legitimate rights / bad faith). There have been a number of UDRP cases involving stolen names. eht.com, xag.com, holylemon.com and so on.

        The reason this was filed as a lawsuit in Virginia instead of as a UDRP is the same as many other suits in this genre.

        Under the UDRP, it is free for a respondent to show up and argue. If this was filed as a UDRP case, it would go the way of NewZealand.com, Mexico.com, PuertoRico.com, etc., which were all geographical terms that do not qualify as a trademark in connection with subject matter relating to the place in question. Absent the ability to prove a trademark, the UDRP case fails.

        Litigation operates differently. First, almost any statement, if not rebutted by the other side, is taken as an admission. Since, (a) it is much harder for a domain registrant to have someone appear in court than to respond to a UDRP, and (b) it would require the thief to identify themselves, then the usual course in these types of “stolen name cases in EDVA” is to find an attorney willing to allege that the domain name is a trademark, even when they know full well it isn’t.

        But since the other side isn’t going to show up, then there is an “ends justifies the means” approach which has been taken in relation to these sorts of cases in general.

        So if a name is stolen, and there is a good faith argument that it was a trademark, then the UDRP is fine.

        If the trademark claim is on shakier ground, then one finds one of the lawyers willing to say anything in order to get the name back this way.

    • Andrew Allemann says

      It appears the domain was actually in AutoRenew, so it was just going through the delete cycle. Verisign transferred it back to the plaintiff today and it has been renewed for another year.

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