Competitor says HP employees and consultant set up websites and social media accounts to disparage it…and then crossed the line with physical threats.
I’ve read a lot of bizarre domain name disputes, but two recent ones involving an HP employee take it to another level.
Big data company Splunk just won two UDRP domain name disputes against the domain names DontGetSplunked.com and SplunkFail.com. Splunk alleged that these were basically part of a grassroots campaign (along with social media) undertaken by HP employees and an HP consultant.
According to the panel decision, the registrant of one of the domain names is an HP employee. The other domain was registered by an HP consultant to its Enterprise Security Division. That division sells a product called “ArcSight”, which competes with Splunk.
The UDRP decision states that the employee and consultant, along with two other HP employees, starting posting disparaging comments about Splunk on both the websites at these domains and on social media. Most of these messages poked at Splunk’s security, but Splunk argues at least two messages were physically threatening:
“… if I was [sic] in a room with a gun, with two bullets in it, with Osama Bin [sic] Laden, Hitler, and Splunk, I would shoot Splunk … twice.”
“Splunk is like a leaky gas line,solution [sic] to fixing the gas leak? How about a bigger gas line? Light a match on #splunkfail #boomgoesdynamite.”
Splunk says it beefed up its physical security as a result of these postings.
The company filed UDRPs to take over the two domain names and also contacted HP’s Chief Ethics and Compliance Officer Ashley Watson regarding the matter.
HP responded to Splunk:
Although HP disputes your characterizations regarding the websites and twitter accounts, and does not believe that the facts stated in your letter give rise to any cognizable claim, much less any damage or harm to Splunk, HP would prefer to resolve the matter amicably rather than devoting resources to a dispute. Consequently, HP is prepared to work with the individual owners of the domains identified by Splunk, and believes it can persuade them, to voluntarily effectuate a transfer of those domains to Splunk in exchange for an appropriate release for the interested parties, including HP. HP’s interest in resolution is not intended as, and should be not viewed as, an admission of wrongdoing by HP or the individual HP employees. HP acted swiftly to request removal of the content by the involved individuals, notwithstanding the fact that HP did not own or control the websites or accounts, and had no responsibility for the content referenced in your letter.
HP also filed UDRP responses on behalf of the two domain owners (an employee and consultant), arguing that they were legitimate gripe sites. The panels in both cases determined that’s not the case since the domains were set up by competitors to disparage a product, thus getting a financial benefit.
The websites at the domains and social media accounts were removed shortly after Splunk contacted HP.
I have a feeling some HP employees are in hot water.