WIPO panel denies cybersquatting claim over valuable four letter domain name.
Lolo, LLC, a North Carolina company that operates a business at LoLo.gifts, has been found (pdf) to have engaged in reverse domain name hijacking for the domain LoLo.com.
The company first attempted to buy the domain from the person who owned it in January 2019. The domain was acquired by the current owner, a domain investor, the next month. LoLo, LLC continued to attempt to buy the domain from the prior registrant after that date.
A three-person World Intellectual Property Organization panel determined that the domain wasn’t registered and used in bad faith. The domain owner pointed out that it invests in four letter domains with a cvcv pattern, and that lolo is a dictionary word in some languages. The panel noted that there are lots of trademark registrations for ‘lolo’ and the Complainant “provided almost no evidence of the degree of actual public recognition of its mark.”
In finding reverse domain name hijacking, the panel wrote:
The Panel notes that the Complainant engaged with Registrant A in early 2019 in an attempt to purchase the disputed domain name. Over 18 months later, the Complainant continued communications with Registrant A, in an ongoing attempt to purchase the disputed domain name. While the Complainant may have had reasonable basis to infer that Registrant A continued to be the registrant of the disputed domain name in mid-2020, prior to submission of the Complaint the Complainant obtained a compiled WhoIs report setting out the historic ownership of the disputed domain name, in which a change in registrant and registrar was documented that coincided with a change in use of the disputed domain name from which the Complainant could reasonably infer a break in the chain of registration. Having unsuccessfully attempted to purchase the disputed domain name from Registrant A, the Complainant proceeded in late 2022 to bring a UDRP Complaint against the Respondent based on the notion that Registrant A and the Respondent were connected, and that the Respondent therefore had knowledge of the Complainant and its prior attempts to purchase the disputed domain name, without a reasonable factual or evidentiary basis for doing so. While weakness in a complainant’s case does not alone provide a basis for a finding of RDNH, the Panel finds that the Complainant’s case was brought in a manner that either knowingly or at least negligently misrepresented the factual matrix surrounding the ownership of the disputed domain name in the Complainant’s attempt to prove bad faith, which in this Panel’s view amounts to an abuse of the administrative process.
Kay Griffin, PLLC represented the Complainant and Law.es (Paul Keating) represented the domain owner.