Venture capital and accelerator company tries to get PlugAndPlay.com through cybersquatting dispute.
A California company has been found to have attempted reverse domain name hijacking of the domain name PlugAndPlay.com.
Plug & Play, LLC, a California venture capital firm that runs 50 accelerators around the world, tried to get the domain name PlugAndPlay.com from its rightful owner by claiming he was cybersquatting. The Complainant uses the domain name PlugandPlayTechCenter.com.
The case was going to be difficult to win even without looking at the details: “plug and play” is a common technology term that has been used extensively in marketing.
But it’s the details that led to World Intellectual Property Organization panelist W. Scott Blackmer determining that Plug & Play, LLC filed the case in abuse of the policy. The key issue is that the Complainant didn’t even exist when the domain owner registered the domain name. This means it was impossible for the domain owner to register the domain in bad faith to target the Complainant.
A finding of RDNH is warranted, for example, when a panel finds that the complainant (especially one represented by counsel) should have recognized that it could not succeed on one of the three elements of the complaint under any fair interpretation of the available facts or brings a complaint based “on only the barest of allegations without any supporting evidence” (id.). That is the case here, where the Domain Name, based on a common English phrase, was created before the Complainant business was even formed, and the Respondent already had its own established business with a corresponding name. The Complainant failed to investigate these obvious difficulties, and its Supplemental Filing then overlooked facts (prominently, the relationships between the successive Domain Name registrants) that were available even in the Response and its attachments. Hence, the Panel grants the request for a finding of Reverse Domain Name Hijacking.
The domain owner also alleged that Plug & Play tried to mislead the panel by omitting emails showing that the Complainant initiated discussions about buying the domain name, rather than the other way around. It appears that the domain owner offered to sell the domain for $100,000-$150,000, which seems like a very fair price for this domain.