The panelist made the right decision but this case is still frustrating.
I’m a bit frustrated after reading the UDRP decision for DewberryDesigns.com today. The result was correct; panelist Christopher Gibson correctly ruled that this isn’t a case of cybersquatting under the UDRP. But there are three things that frustrate me.
First, the domain name owner was obviously confused and burdened by the case. She stated that she is “a simple artist who debated selling earrings I haven’t even made on Shopify a while ago. I have obviously never done that, much less developed the site.” She also indicated that “I am not working, I just had surgery, I have two kids. Whatever this is, I don’t have time for it.”
Second, the registrar identified the domain owner’s last name as Dewberry after the case was filed. Yet the Complainant, Dewberry Designs, did not address this in its amended complaint, when it probably should have just withdrawn the case. Gibson wrote:
Here, Complainant alleged that that the Domain Name was registered by a person who neither does business as Dewberry nor has Dewberry as part of their name, that there is no active website and there would be a high likelihood of confusion if one were activated, and that the only conclusion is that the Domain Name was registered for one or more improper purposes.
The Panel notes that somewhat surprisingly Complainant maintained these allegation in its amended Complainant, even after Respondent had been identified by the Registrar with the last name being Dewberry. It did not, for example, allege that the contact details were fake (though the Panel has no reason on the record before it to believe that would be the case).
I think Gibson should have considered reverse domain name hijacking based on this. After learning the registrant’s identity, the argument that the person doesn’t have Dewberry as part of their name is false.
Finally, I’m frustrated that Gibson didn’t make a determination on the issue of whether the registrant had rights or legitimate interest in the domain. Gibson wrote:
…In the interest of judicial economy, and in light of the Panel’s decision on the third element below, the Panel does not decide the question of whether Respondent has established any rights or legitimate interests in the Domain Name under the Policy.
If your last name is part of the domain, there are very few circumstances under which you don’t clearly have rights or legitimate interests in the domain.
Thankfully, the ultimate decision was correct. But I think Gibson should have given a more forceful rebuke of the complaint.