Panelist finds reverse domain name hijacking in pickleball domain dispute.
An Oregon man has been found to have engaged in reverse domain name hijacking in a dispute over a pickleball domain name.
Trevor Meier filed a dispute with National Arbitration Forum in an effort to get the domain name globalpickleballnetwork.com. The domain is owned by a person in Florida who runs pickleball.global. That person forwards the subject domain to pickleball.global and the headline on that site is “Welcome to Pickleball Global Network”.
Meier appeared to believe that he could get the domain name from the Respondent if he had a trademark for “Global Pickleball Network” even though the Respondent owned the domain before he started his business.
In finding reverse domain name hijacking, panelist Charles Kuechenmeister wrote:
Complainant is not represented by legal counsel in this proceeding but the evidence of bad faith in bringing this action is compelling and even a person not familiar with UDRP practice should have known that doing so was fundamentally wrong. In August of 2018, one year before bringing this case, Complainant called Respondent to tell him that he was planning to start a business called “Global Pickleball Network” and requested Respondent to sell him the Domain Name. Respondent refused, explaining that he had been using the Domain Name in connection with his operations for several years and wanted to continue to do so. At that point, Complainant became aggressive and informed Respondent that he planned to start his business under the name mentioned, that he would obtain a trademark registration for it, and force Respondent to turn the Domain Name over to him (Response Exhibit A). Complainant then took those actions, with full knowledge of Respondent’s business and his rights in the Domain Name. Respondent notes that one year later, when the USPTO registration was issued, Complainant filed this proceeding the same day. Respondent also notes that one of the grounds for a finding of bad faith alleged by Complainant is that Respondent refused to sell the Domain Name to Complainant for any amount of money. This is just the reverse of the circumstance articulated in Policy ¶ 4(b)(i). It is clear that, for whatever reason, Complainant believes himself entitled to the Domain Name and initiated this proceeding to obtain it, without regard for any of the requirements imposed by the Policy.
Complainant knew or should have known that he would be unable to prove that Respondent lacked rights or legitimate interests in the Domain Name or that Respondent registered and was using the Domain Name in bad faith. This meets well-established criteria for a finding of reverse domain name hijacking.
In pickleball, a “kitchen violation” is when you hit the ball out of the air standing too close to the net. The play is dead in favor of the other team when you commit a kitchen violation. It seems like an apt description of this case.