Mexican bottler tries to get domain matching its stock ticker without paying for it.
Coca-Cola Femsa, S.A.B, a Coca-Cola bottling company in Mexico, has been found guilty of reverse domain name hijacking (pdf).
The company uses the stock ticker KOF and filed a cybersquatting complaint against kof.com.
Kof.com was acquired by the current owner in 2013. According to the dispute, he responded to the Complainant’s anonymous purchase inquiry last year by stating that he would consider offers over $85,000. A few months later, the Complainant apparently offered through a broker to buy the domain for $324,350, which the domain owner accepted.
The Complainant didn’t complete the deal and stated in the UDRP that it was the domain owner who demanded $324,350, even though that was the Complainant’s offer. (I can’t help but wonder if there was something lost in translation or if the broker was playing the parties.)
At any rate, the panel agreed with the domain owner that he did not acquire the domain to target the bottling company, and he had rights or legitimate interests in the domain as a valuable three-letter domain.
Oddly, Coca-Cola Femsa applied for (and was granted) three trademarks for kof.com last year. Yes, it got trademarks for a domain it didn’t own.
The three-member World Intellectual Property Organization panel found that the Complainant filed the case in bad faith. It wrote:
As detailed in the above analysis of the Second and Third Element, the Panel finds that the Complainant and its Counsel have contravened the above RDNH bases: lack of properly-evidenced relevant trademark rights as of the date when the Respondent acquired the disputed domain name; knowledge of a lack of the
Respondent’s bad faith directed towards the Complainant, making the assertion that the Respondent must have been targeting the Complainant highly unlikely; attempt to mislead the Panel by stating that “the Respondent requested a much larger amount of money than the first time for the transfer of the Disputed Domain Name to the profit of the Complainant (i.e., $324,350 USD). Given the aforesaid, no agreement was reached between the parties”, whereas it has become clear (a) that the Respondent did not request this amount, as it was an unsolicited proposal by the Complainant, and (b) that the Respondent did actually agree to sell at that price. Finally, as it has been stated in many previous decisions, a complainant is at risk of a RDNH declaration when its attempt to try and buy a domain name is not successful, and it tries to obtain it by using, or rather “abusing”, the UDRP.
Chevez Ruiz Zamarripa represented the Complainant and Muscovitch Law P.C. represented the domain owner.