Financial firm blasted for frivilous cybersquatting dispute.
A World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) panelist has determined that De Lage Landen International B.V. attempted reverse domain name hijacking by filing a cybersquatting dispute against DLL.com. The company uses the domain name DLLgroup.com.
DLL.com is owned by a New York man who registered it in 1995.
The complainant anonymously contacted the owner to inquire about buying the domain name. The owner responded with a $100 million request, which he said he commonly requests to deter frivolous inquiries.
WIPO Panelist Nick Gardner found that the owner had legitimate interests in the domain name because he used it for a book company as an abbreviation for “Defining Literacy Levels”. Proof of this use is in Archive.org’s Wayback Machine.
Gardner also said it was unlikely that the domain was registered in 1995 to target De Lage Landen International”
The Complainant appears to operate in a specialized area in the financial services sector and it seems fanciful in the extreme to suggest the Respondent chose the Disputed Domain Name in 1995, because of any perceived connection with the Complainant, given there is no credible evidence suggesting why the Respondent should have been aware of the Complainant at all, still less why he would have identified it as having any rights or reputation in the letters “DLL”.
In finding reverse domain name hijacking, Gardner wrote:
…The Complainant should have appreciated that establishing registration and use in bad faith in respect of a domain name which had first been registered many years previously and which was a three-letter acronym was likely to involve difficult considerations. The Complainant appears to have ignored any such considerations and based its case entirely upon conclusory allegations unsupported by any evidence. It ought to have been apparent to the Complainant or its advisers that its case to have rights in the term “DLL” as at the date the Disputed Domain Name was registered was (on the evidence presented to the Panel) non-existent, and it should then either have sought further and better evidence or decided not to proceed with the Complaint. Instead it did proceed with the Complaint and simply relied upon unsupported conclusory allegations. Further if the Complainant had made sensible further enquiries (such as searching “archive.org”) it would have found out the Respondent had a case of legitimate interest. In addition had it approached the Respondent openly before launching this Complaint it would also likely have been informed of this position – instead it made an anonymous unsolicited approach to purchase the Disputed Domain Name and when that was rebuffed simply launched the present Complaint.
The Panel’s views in this respect are reinforced by the Complainant’s allegation that the Respondent has registered other domain names in bad faith. A single example is relied upon by the Complainant (
). However the only evidence linking this domain name to the Respondent is the registrant name “Steve Thomas” and the Respondent categorically denies that this is anything to do with him and says he would have no interest in such a domain name and this is clearly some other “Steve Thomas”. “Steve Thomas” does not seem to the Panel to be an unusual name and it should have been apparent to the Complainant that a case advanced on the basis that the Respondent had a propensity to register domain names in bad faith needed far more persuasive evidence that the coincidence of registrant name in one other domain name.