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Bad Karma: Reverse domain name hijacking in Karma.com case

An ironic finding in Karma.com UDRP.

Graphical element of the word Karma

Karma is….a company being found guilty of reverse domain name hijacking for the domain Karma.com while being represented by a lawyer who is also a UDRP panelist.

Karma International, LLC filed a UDRP against Karma.com and struck out on all three counts. The panel found that it didn’t show that the domain was confusingly similar to a mark in which it has rights, nor that the domain owner lacked a legitimate interest in the domain, nor that he registered it in bad faith.

That’s a rare trifecta.

The case is rather stunning. The Complainant tried to buy the domain name in 2009 and failed. Ten years later it followed up with a UDRP.

The domain owner registered the domain way back in 1994.

In other words, this was a dead-on-arrival case.

In finding reverse domain name hijacking, the three-person National Arbitration Forum panel wrote:

…The Panel is in agreement with Respondent’s submissions and finds, on any construction of the facts, that Complainant knew or should have known that it was unable to prove its Complaint. The explicit claims to bad faith registration and use made in the Complaint are largely specious and the accusations levelled at Respondent are groundless and malicious.

This is not the picture of an assiduous infringer slowly engineering the downfall of the rightful trademark owner. Indeed, on one construction of the evidence, it could be said that the Complaint was the design of a party disappointed by its failure, ten years ago, to secure the purchase of the domain name, who has turned the Policy against Respondent, indifferent to the integrity of that party.

Karma International was represented by Kristin Kosinski of Cislo & Thomas LLP. According to her bio, she is a panelist for National Arbitration Forum. I cannot find any cases she has heard as a panelist, and perhaps it’s best that she not decide cases given filing an RDNH case.

The domain name owner was represented by David Weslow of Wiley Rein LLP.

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  1. Charles Christopher says

    I’d love to know how much money Kristin’s firm made representing her client.

    In fact I always wonder this, especially when the case shows a previous low offer.

    Be interesting for you to do an article on that. What is the typically amount paid by a Complainant? Then we get to see how much law firms make, versus domain sellers … When appropriate, we’d also get to put a link to such an article in our responses.

    I’m betting in far too many cases (not prime generics of course), had the Complainant offered an amount equal to that legal fee, the seller would have sold. Everyone would have been happy and a lot more stress free.

  2. Domain Boss says

    There should be a financial penalty to the complainant in case of RDNH, along with ban on filing another UDRP for 10 years or so. This will bring fairness to the system.

    • John says

      Keep preaching it, Boss. I’ve been advocating penalty for RDNH for a long time in the blogs too, but it’s largely a brick wall because domainers equate it with “losers pays” instead of penalty for abuse of process. Zak Muscovitch also wrote the “great article” on that a while back, and people just keep conflating the two and believing it’s a slippery slope. Andrew has said before how much he hates slippery slope arguments in general himself, but he probably won’t ever publicly agree with penalty for RDNH because of peer pressure and how it would ruffle the feathers of the prevailing domaining “establishment narrative.”

      Ain’t that right, Andrew? 😉

        • John says

          No problem Snoopy – if a respondent abuses the process, they should be penalized too. I guess that’ll be maybe 1 out of a million respondents. And if you can explain how a respondent could even abuse the process to begin with, except for deliberate lying and fraud, I’m all ears…

  3. Anonymous says

    It looks like Kristin Kosinski of Cislo & Thomas LLP was more interested in charging legal fees to her client than advising that same client that they had no chance of acquiring the domain name without paying the rightful owner of that domain name his asking price.

    Karma International looks like a club for a bunch of annoying, self-absorbed people, so the club would certainly not be the highest and best use of the domain name anyway. Surely, the owner of Karma.com could find a better-suited buyer who would pay a much higher price with no questions because they can see the value of owning the domain name without whining about the asking price. It’s obvious why the owner did not want to sell to such a company as Karma International.

    • Richard says

      Agree. The photos on their website look like a giant horrorshow. Maybe they should rebrand to Douchebags International.

  4. C.S. Watch says

    Filing this complaint is not about the puny billable hours, it’s about the future business the Cislo and Thomas firm hopes to cull from this herpetic gaggle.

    If you’ve lived in NY or LA, you’ve met at least one omega male who pays an annual fee to a club offering access, loci, and plausible deniability.
    https://www.yelp.com/biz/karma-international-long-beach-2. The Yelp reviewer spitballing about penis size may be overplotting the data points, but the part about disgusting borderline-sex parties is a square hit. If Karma Iinternational were to receive the federal court’s 100k+ slap for RDNH, it would serve double duty:

    “I saw many girls have the same things happening to them. They felt because they had the money to buy an overpriced ticket, they had the right to grope us.” “…these men must have been under the impression that since they spent upwards of $3000 to get a dingy VIP table, they had free reign to grab at and sexually harass every women [sic] that walked by.”

    What entitles you to escape accountability, Kristin Kosinski? You’ve filed several UDRPs and your firm was involved in an RDNH suit for a past name seizure–you knew you were violating federal law. It costs people 5-10K in legal fees to file a response to an abusive complaint like yours. A theft of AZ property in that amount is a felony, carrying up to seven (7) years in jail. (Let alone the value of the domain KARMA.COM, at 500K to 1M.) Thousands of people are losing years of their lives behind bars for less. At the very least, shouldn’t you lose your license to practice law?

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