Company makes “Plan B” attempt to get domain through UDRP after failing to buy it.
ConsumerDirect, Inc. has been found to have attempted reverse domain name hijacking of the domain PrivacyMaster.com.
Barry Walters registered the domain name in 2000 when he was the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”)/Privacy Law counsel for the Department of the United States Air Force.
ConsumerDirect has a credit monitoring product called Privacy Master. It registered a trademark claiming first use 21 years after Walter’s registration of the domain name.
The company attempted to buy the domain for as much as $55,000. When its efforts to acquire the domain failed, it filed a UDRP.
Given the obvious deficiency of the timeline, it tried to argue that the domain was renewed in bad faith.
In finding reverse domain name hijacking, three-person UDRP panel wrote:
Here, Complainant is represented by legal counsel and the present case fits the “Plan B” model as Complainant pursued the present case only after its many unsuccessful attempts to purchase the privacymaster.com domain name from Respondent. It then asserts an outdated and rejected line of argument in an attempt to overcome the fact that the disputed domain name was registered twenty-one years prior to the earliest existence of its trademark rights. However, even had Complainant been correct in its assertion that Respondent’s renewal of the disputed domain name created a “re-registration” to satisfy the conjunctive nature of Policy ¶ 4(a)(iii), it has still failed to prove that Respondent acted in bad faith by specifically targeting Complainant and its mark. There is no evidence that Respondent’s website has ever displayed any content that touched on Complainant or its field of business and Complainant knew of Respondent’s position as Director, Office of Support Operations and Chief FOIA and Privacy Officer at the United States SEC which provides a rational basis for its good-faith interest in a domain name consisting of the descriptive phrase “privacy master”. Finally, Complainant mischaracterized the message of a registrar broker as Respondent’s “obvious attempt to extort Complainant”. The facts, as demonstrated by Complainant’s own evidence, are clear that Respondent itself never offered to sell the domain name to Complainant – it was Complainant who initiated all communications with Respondent and Respondent never engaged in discussions with Complainant, stated a price, or even indicated its willingness to sell the domain name.
While it is clear that Complainant was highly motivated to acquire the privacymaster.com domain name, having offered as much as USD $55,000 over the course of more than two years, the aim of the Policy is not to award transfers to party who claims it will put a given domain name to a better or more productive use, but only to address abusive domain names that target a complainant’s trademark. The latter scenario is simply not present here and this reality should have been recognized by Complainant and its counsel.
Rutan & Tucker LLP represented ConsumerDirect and Jason Schaeffer of ESQwire.com, P.C. represented the domain owner.