A bit of gamesmanship in a battle for TRX.com.
JFXD TRX ACQ LLC has filed an in rem lawsuit over TRX.com in its continued attempts to obtain the domain name.
In November, Fitness Anywhere LLC won a UDRP against the domain name in a controversial decision. The owner of the domain, who did not respond in that dispute, subsequently sued Fitness Anywhere for reverse domain name hijacking. He filed the suit in Arizona, where the registrar for the domain is based.
Now TRX, which describes Fitness Anywhere as its predecessor in interest, has filed an in rem lawsuit in Virginia, where the .com registry is based.
I’m not a lawyer, but this seems a bit curious. In making its case for filing in rem, the company states:
This Court has in rem jurisdiction over pursuant to 15 U.S.C. § 1125(d)(2)(A). Upon information and belief, Defendant provided the domain name registrar, GoDaddy Inc., with false contact information in registering the Domain Name. As part of a prior action under the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (the “UDRP”) to recover the Domain Name, TRX, through its predecessor-in-interest, emailed the firstname.lastname@example.org email address listed under the contact information for the Domain Name, but received no response. Due to the incomplete nature of the postal address listed for the Domain Name, TRX also has not been able to reach the Domain Name registrant through postal mail. Further, TRX may be unable to obtain in personam jurisdiction over Defendant. Accordingly, in rem jurisdiction over is appropriate.
OK, but now that the owner of the domain has sued it in Arizona, surely it’s able to get in touch with him through his counsel?
It’s notable that Arizona is in the Ninth Circuit, where courts have ruled that claims under the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act (ACPA) should look at when the domain was originally registered, not when the current registrant obtained it. So the domain owner will have the upper hand there. (More on this issue is in this podcast.)
There are also questions about the Complainant. Fitness Anywhere LLC filed the original UDRP. That company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in June 2022. It omitted its “TRX” marks from the Schedule of Property filed in the bankruptcy proceeding in July. It assigned the marks to a Florida LLC in August, which was recorded in September. Then Fitness Anywhere LLC filed the UDRP the next month.
Looks like the domain hijacker is jumping on PRU .com 4th circuit outcome, in hopes of using ‘in rem’ tactic to seize TRX .com.
Unlikely the 4th Circuit falls for this legal strategy when 9th Circuit already has the case with registrant info on file. But 4th Circuit is a dangerous wild card in protecting domainer rights.
Clearly, PRU *com has set a pathway for test cases, one of which will surely reach the U.S. Supreme Court docket by 2025.
SCOTUS can’t sit by and allow the circuits to have multiple standards of constitutional protection; its their job to make absolute rulings.
If necessary, the registrants of PRU .com & TRX .com must utilize exhaust all legal options.