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Lawsuit alleges valuable domain names were stolen

At least two of the three domains have since been sold.

Picture of shaded man in hoodie with the words "stolen domains"

A lawsuit (pdf) filed in U.S. District Court in Virginia yesterday alleges that three valuable domain names were stolen last year.

Vincent Yap, a Chinese citizen, alleges that he is the rightful owner of 284.com, 717.com and 1588.com. He says the domains were stolen from him sometime between when he acquired them in 2018 and March 2021.

Complicating the matter, two of the domain names were reported sold at Sedo in March of last year. This suggests that the current owners are not the alleged thieves, and they will need to determine how they want to defend the assets they acquired. Around the same time as these domain sales, another person bought 509.com at Sedo only to have a former owner complain that it was stolen. The domain owner defended the domain and that case was dropped.

At this point, I wouldn’t touch a three or four number domain unless it has a clear chain of title that you’ve verified. I also think courts should make sure that plaintiffs make some legitimate attempt to contact the current domain owners for notice when filing an in rem lawsuit like this.

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  1. John Berryhill says

    Some day, someone is going to be sanctioned over making claims this obviously deficient:

    32. The Plaintiff purchased the Defendant Domain Names, has owned them for years, has used them in commerce as part of his business and has common law rights in the mark.

    33. Defendant Doe’s actions constitute registration, trafficking, or use of domain
    names that are identical to the Plaintiff’s trademark, with bad faith intent to profit therefrom.

    Aside from the fact that the plaintiff clearly never used any of the the three domain names as a mark, the allegation that all three different names are similar to “the Plaintiff’s trademark” which is merely called “the mark” without even saying what it is, suggests a level of lazy copy-paste composition well below any threshold of diligence.

    The cybersquatting allegation is not even trying to make out a claim.

  2. Steve says

    “when he acquired them in 2018 and March 2021”

    Too much time passed . . .

    The current owners should accordingly include laches as one of their defenses.

    • Andrew Allemann says

      He indicates they were stolen around March last year, but it says on or before. So he probably should narrow the range, but it sounds like the theft was less than a year ago, and I’m not sure when he found out about it.

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