Attorney tried to intimidate domain name owner to settle dispute.
Decoweb Brands, S.A. of Spain has been found to have engaged in reverse domain name hijacking over the domain name MaisonDecor.com.
It certainly seems like Decoweb’s counsel tried to bully the domain owner into handing the domain over. According to the World Intellectual Property Organization decision:
Prior to the filing of the Complaint, the Complainant’s legal representative contacted the Respondent, in English, seeking information about a possible sale of the disputed domain name. On July 22, 2019, the Respondent offered a price of USD 8,500 and, later the same day, USD 7,000. The Complainant’s legal representative made a counter-offer of USD 500 that the Respondent rejected. On October 17, 2019, after the filing of the Complaint, the Complainant’s legal representative sent an email to the Respondent making a further counter-offer of USD 300 for the transfer of the disputed domain name and settlement of this dispute. In that email, the Complainant’s legal representative alleged that if this counter-offer was rejected and the Panel ordered transfer of the disputed domain name, the Complainant could probably also initiate proceedings for indemnity and procedural costs against the Respondent.
That’s not good.
Decoweb didn’t provide proof of use of the Maison Decor trademark, despite it having acquired a Spanish trademark that was registered in 1994 by another party. Without proof, it was hard to convince the panelist that the Chinese registrant targeted it with the registration.
That said, it appears that the domain owner either mislead panelist Matthew Kennedy or Kennedy read too much into the response. Kennedy believed the domain owner was the original registrant in 1998. Historical Whois records show that the domain expired in 2010 and was registered by a party in China.
It doesn’t seem like this would have changed the overall decision, though. The respondent showed that Decoweb was founded in 2015. Without showing that it acquired actively used trademarks prior to 2010, it wouldn’t have mattered. Even then, with two generic words, it would have been an uphill battle to win this case.