If a complainant representative isn’t aware of all of the facts, it can always say mea culpa.
Cricket South Africa, an organization behind a professional cricket competition in South Africa in the T20 format, has been found to have engaged in reverse domain name hijacking.
It was a complex case in which the complainant’s attorney likely didn’t have all of the facts. The respondent called out the complainant with the real facts. When it did, rather than apologize, the complainant doubled down.
For that, it was found guilty of reverse domain name hijacking.
The timeline is long and it’s worth reviewing the entire decision. But I’ll summarize here:
1. The Complainant announced plans for its cricket competition.
2. Someone registered t20globalleague.com in response to the announcement.
3. Ortus Sport & Entertainment, acting on behalf of the Complainant, contracts with a third party service (the Respondent) to acquire the domain from the registrant.
4. The Respondent acquired the domain name and sent an invoice to Ortus to forward to the Complainant.
5. The league was delayed and the Respondent didn’t get paid. It never got paid and held on to the domain.
6. The Complainant filed a UDRP against the Respondent to get the domain name.
It’s highly likely that the attorney representing Cricket South Africa was not aware of this series of events. I think this is often the case in UDRPs, even ones that aren’t as complex as this one. In some cases, a company tries to acquire a domain name and then someone else at the company files a UDRP 5 years later.
This looks bad and is often grounds for reverse domain name hijacking. But complainants have an option at this point: presented with evidence by the respondent of its mistake, the complainant can always apologize and not pursue the case any further. Yet they end up either not responding to that information or doubling down.
In this case, the complainant doubled down. It complained of late submissions by the respondent rather than the obvious disparities in its case.
Panelist Tony Willoughby explained:
…when the Respondent was finally able to produce the Complainant’s email to Ortus Sport of September 21, 2017, demonstrating beyond doubt that at that date (nearly four months prior to the filing of the Complaint) the Complainant was indeed aware of that correspondence [ed: showing that Ortus contracted with the Respondent on the Complainant’s orders], the Complainant’s response (in the form of the Complainant’s response to Procedural Order No. 4) was to seek to keep it from the Panel, arguing on a formal technicality that the Panel should not look at it.
At no stage in the course of this proceeding has the Complainant offered any indication of remorse for its lamentable conduct.
Willoughby also explained why it’s not OK for a complainant’s representative to just claim ignorance to what really happened:
The Respondent sought a finding of RDNH in the Response based upon the Complainant’s failure to disclose in the Complaint the September/October correspondence set out in Section 4 above. The Complaint failed to mention that correspondence because the person responsible for drafting the Complaint was unaware of it. Is that good reason for declining to make a finding of RDNH? The Panel does not believe so. Abusive complainants could simply tailor their instructions to their representatives, omitting inconvenient facts [emphasis added]. The Panel believes that it is entitled to assume that before signing the certificate at the end of the Complaint and filing it with the Center, the Complainant’s representative sent the Complaint in draft to the Complainant and obtained the Complainant’s approval to its content, thereby assuming responsibility for its accuracy.