Some of the Complainant’s claims are easily disproven.
I’m often amazed by cybersquatting claims under UDRP. This weekend I read a case that was extremely disturbing.
Grimco, Inc., a distributor of products to the sign industry, filed a UDRP against the domain name Briteline.com. Briteline.com is owned by Mike Forde of Florida and has a registrant name of Briteline Consulting.
Forde was unable to respond to the UDRP. According to a note the National Arbitration Forum (NAF) received from a person identifying herself as Forde’s sister, he sustained a serious head injury this summer.
What bothers me about this filing is that I can easily show that this is not a case of cybersquatting under UDRP with about five minutes of research.
According to the decision published by NAF, Grimco argued:
Respondent undoubtedly was aware of Complainant and its BRITELINE mark as the Domain Name prominently features the BRITELINE mark and Complainant’s rights in the BRITELINE mark predate Respondent’s registration of the domain name.
Grimco claims common law rights dating to 2004. But the domain was registered in 1996! A quick look at historical Whois records shows that Forde has owned the domain since at least 2001 (and he was very likely the original registrant.)
The published decision also states that Grimco argued:
Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the Domain Name.
Again, this is easily disproven. The Whois record shows a registrant organization of Briteline Consulting.
Panelist Charles Kuechenmeister noted:
The name of the registrant organization contains the name “Briteline” but there is no evidence as to whether or the manner in which Respondent may have used this name in connection with a business, when any such use began, or the extent to which Respondent may actually have become known by that name.
Fair enough. Given that Forde did not respond to the case, the panelist had no proof of a connection.
But with a simple Google search for Mike Forde briteline consulting I discovered this business filing. It shows that a man named Michael Forde living at the same address listed in Whois started a business called Briteline Consulting in 1996, the same year the domain was registered.
I understand that the panelist doesn’t need to do this search (and given the outcome of the case it doesn’t really matter) but the Complainant could have easily discovered this.
Kuechenmeister denied Grimco’s case because the 1996 registration could not have been made in bad faith given the Complainant’s claimed trademark date. He should have gone further and considered a filing in abuse of the policy.
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