German company tries to get valuable three letter domain name without paying the market price.
Tox Pressotechnik GmbH & Co. KG has been found guilty of reverse domain name hijacking (pdf) in a cybersquatting dispute over tox.com.
The company tried to buy the domain name last year but wasn’t willing to offer more than $24,000 for the valuable domain name. After negotiations broke off, it filed a UDRP with World Intellectual Property Organization.
TFourth, LLC, the domain registrant, said it is a domain investor and acquired the domain because of its value as a short domain name. It acquired the domain, along with many other three letter .com domains, in 2001.
The Complainant existed before TFourth registered the domain, but it is highly unlikely that TFourth registered the domain to target the Complainant. The three panelists wrote:
The record does not indicate that the Respondent likely targeted the Complainant’s mark in 2001, and the amount of the Respondent’s demand in 2021 does not prove otherwise. The record amply demonstrates the inherent value of three-letter “.com” domain names, particularly those, such as the Domain Name, based on dictionary terms. In any event, it strains credulity to imply that the Respondent obtained the Domain Name in 2001 “primarily” with the intent of attracting an offer from the Complainant and then patiently waited two decades for that offer.
In finding reverse domain name hijacking, the panel wrote:
…The three-letter Domain Name corresponds to a dictionary term and was registered more than 21 years ago. The bare-bones Complaint does not establish that the Complainant’s mark had achieved widespread recognition by that time and was uniquely associated with the Complainant. It does not come close to establishing the probability that the Respondent “must have been” aware that the mark was associated with a manufacturer of sheet-metal joining tools and chose to invest in the three-letter Domain Name – and hold onto it for more than two decades – in the hope that the manufacturer would pay a large sum for the Domain Name.
The Complaint makes no serious effort to confront these obvious issues, and it throws in a reference to the passive holding doctrine without addressing the conditions laid down in Nuclear Marshmallows and following decisions for finding bad faith under that doctrine, such as establishing the fame of the mark, the lack of a Response, or the absence of plausible, legitimate reasons for selecting the disputed domain name. The Complainant focuses on the fact that the Respondent declined an offer for the Domain Name for USD 24,000, but this is unsurprising for a three-letter “.com” domain name.
The Complainant can rightly be faulted for subjecting the Respondent to the expense and burden of a UDRP proceeding on such thin premises…
Otten, Roth, Dobler & Partner GmbH represented the Complainant. Ankur Raheja of Cylaw Solutions represented the domain owner.