Front running makes for a confusing cybersquatting case.
Auction front running is black mark on the domain name market.
Front runners email potential buyers of a domain name before winning a domain name auction, usually as a domain name expires. If they find an eager prospect for the domain, they bid up the price of the domain to win it and sell it to the buyer.
The practice is highlighted in a recent UDRP, Stonz Wear Inc. v. Domain Admin, Level2 LLC.
Stonz Wear was bombarded with offers to buy the domain Stonz.com before the domain was auctioned on NameJet. The company engaged with some of the inquirers, including one “Dan Wilson”, who worked for the Respondent.
The Respondent, which won the auction, explained to Stonz Wear that the inquiries it received (other than from Dan Wilson) were from front runners. It called the practice nefarious and said it doesn’t condone it.
But Stonz Wear pointed out that, based on the auction timeline, Level 2 LLC was one of the front runners itself! Dan Wilson reached out prior to the end of the auction.
The World Intellectual Property Organization panel found in favor of Stonz Wear and ordered the domain transferred.
Stonz Wear lost a prior UDRP it filed on this name against a previous owner.
Mike H says
Wait is this Thomas Steen? Level 2, this crud is still going on Namejet didn’t stop this guy yet?
Andrew Allemann says
Can anyone who participated in the auction confirm? Is that MarkMon?
Praveen Chidaboyina says
markmon is a front runner and I caught him and reported to Namejet but they didn’t any action and Namejet thinks nothing wrong with this business model
corplaw is another front runner
Totally agree with Praveen.
C.S. Watch says
This clucking shows why domain investors remain prey animals.
There are 27 other Stonz companies in the WIPO database. There was a STONZ.COM domain registration many years before this Complainant came into being, and a STONZ.COM website present for a full decade before their 2011 trademark registration. Those facts bounce this dispute absolutely free and clear of the ACPA, and therefore, even further yet from the reach of the UDRP.
This is not ‘nefarious’ behavior—a ‘do you want us to go fetch’ service will be legitimized under law the first moment an actual jurist examines the issue. Those 27 ‘Stonz’ companies will have no idea how to navigate the esoteric domain drop auction process. If it were a ‘non-Chinese’ suit from MarkMonitor executing this service, no one would bat an eye. And it is inane that the WIPO should be harnessed by one of the 27 mark users to shaft the other 26 out of this domain. Those two panelists know that a federal court would side with the dissent, this is settled law after AirFX. So why is the WIPO allowing Turner and Bernstein to remain on rosters?
The ACPA was created to address a very specific targeting issue faced by ‘distinctive’ marks at the birth of the internet. But now that we have 7.5 billion people trading online, and now that all companies have had a two-decade grace period to notice that the internet may be ‘a thing,’ that specious window is a pinhole. (i.e., VERIZNWIRELES.COM.) The first domain registration date ‘by anyone ever in time’ was always the ACPA’s relevant date, not renewals and later registrations. We know this from the Senate record on targeting. This date has since been addressed in federal court and affirmed.
‘Date of first registration by anyone’ is also the dispositive date because domain alienability is flatly mandatory for personal safety. Safety is an overriding and threshold consideration in property law. What mental pygmy doesn’t grasp what threats arise when domains like VOICE.COM are selling for $30,000,000 USD? The millions of people who own domain names prefer not to be shoved under subway trains or stabbed in alleys, you panelist parasites. A multi-million-dollar asset, sold off in probate or dropped under threat—now available for just $10!
Can we get police intervention at the WIPO immediately, please? It is amazing that fora and panelists must be forced to adhere to the language, intent, and federal court decisions, just so individuals can keep themselves and their families safe.
What a squalid, self-promotion toilet is the WIPO for panelists Adam Turner and David H. Bernstein. Unlike federal judges, they have no duty to extrapolate life-threatening consequences. No accountability for a bloody slippery slope. Their only waking concern is drumming up business for themselves.