WIPO panelist finds that motorcycle maker turned to UDRP after failing to negotiate a domain purchase.
Gildo Pallanca-Pastor, the CEO of Venturi Automobiles, has been found (pdf) to have engaged in reverse domain name hijacking for the domain name Voxan.com.
Pallanca-Pastor filed a cybersquatting dispute over the domain at World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). VirtualPoint, which operates UDRPSearch, owns the domain name.
VirtualPoint acquired the domain name in a GoDaddy expired domain auction earlier this year for $1,026. The Complainant reached out to VirtualPoint via a third party to try to acquire the domain for its motorcycle brand. The parties ultimately ended far apart, with Pallanca-Pastor offering $40,050 and VirtualPoint requesting $144,800.
It was at this point that the Complainant filed the case.
Panelist Andrew Lothian wrote a detailed analysis of why this is a case of reverse domain name hijacking. He said that the Complainant misled the panel, which could have resulted in a different panel decision had VirtualPoint not responded to the dispute.
It’s not entirely clear how much of the Complainant’s case was misleading or just incompetent. For example, it said that VirtualPoint had owned the domain since 2016 and, at one time, pointed it to a motorcycle website. A simple Whois history search shows that’s not the case. The Complainant also apparently looked at only the registry’s Whois record, not the registrar’s, when trying to determine ownership of the domain. Or, at least, that’s what it based its complaint on.
Lothian also admonished the Complainant for saying that VirtualPoint offered the domain for sale for $290,000, omitting that this was an initial response to the Complainant’s anonymous overture and that negotiations continued to a much lower price. This leads to an important point:
That the Complainant might have been aware that its position was weak is suggested by the fact that, before abandoning negotiations, it made a final offer of the sum of USD 40,050 to purchase the disputed domain name.
It is unlikely that a company that believes it has a strong intellectual property right in a domain name would offer to buy it for over $40,000.
VirtualPoint sued Venturi upon receiving the UDRP. That case is still active.
BBLM Avocats represented Pallanca-Pastor in the UDRP. Lewis & Lin represented Virtual Point.