Medical equipment company IBA tries reverse domain name hijacking.
Some three letter trademarks are universally famous: think IBM and BMW.
IBA is not one of them.
Yet medical equipment company IBA SA tried to argue this in a cybersquatting complaint against Ousmane Ba, the owner of IBA.com.
Ba registered the domain name in 1995. The Complainant first approached Ba about buying the domain in 2001. Now, more than two decades later, it filed a UDRP.
As you can imagine, it didn’t go well. Among IBA’s arguments:
- IBA “has a better right to the [Disputed] Domain Name because the Respondent is not using it.”
- The domain was renewed in bad faith.
- After instructing a broker to try acquiring the domain for $2,500 in 2021, the broker responded the next day and said the domain is premium and would likely cost more than $25,000. IBA says this correspondence shows the Respondent rejected the offer of $2,500 and was seeking more than $25,000. The panelist correctly pointed out this is not what the communication showed. (Never mind that the Respondent can ask whatever he wants, and this domain is worth well more than $25,000.)
It also turns out that Ba used the domain name around 2000 for his business. The Complainant referred to the business name (International Business Automation) in its dispute.
Panelist Nick Gardner found that IBA didn’t show the domain was registered and used in bad faith. In finding reverse domain name hijacking, he wrote:
In the view of the Panel this is a complaint which should never have been launched. The Complainant is professionally represented in this matter and, in the opinion of the Panel should have appreciated that establishing registration and use in bad faith in respect of a domain name which had first been registered nearly thirty years ago – without any evidence of a subsequent acquisition – and which was a three-letter acronym was likely to involve difficult considerations. In particular it would manifestly require the Complainant to be able to establish it had a significant reputation outside its field of activity in the US at the relevant date and it has not provided any evidence to establish that was even arguably the case. The Complainant appears to have ignored the difficulties in its case. The fact was that a three-letter domain name could have been registered by many people for many reasons, none of which had anything to do with the Complainant. Reasonable enquiries would have quickly established this was likely the case. Given the nature of the Policy and the multiplicity of previously decided cases dealing with similar issues in relation to short acronym type domain names where there was a lack of targeting of the complainant’s mark, this was a case that had no reasonable prospects of success.
He also brought up the seemingly erroneous conclusion about the $2,500 offer for the domain, and the Complaiant’s usage of the company name International Business Automation.
The Belgian law firm Sybarius represented the Complainant. The Respondent was self-represented.