Panelist cops out of finding RDNH.
A World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) panelist decided it was “not necessary” to make a reverse domain name hijacking finding on a dead-on-arrival cybersquatting dispute.
WEDIA SA of Paris, France filed the dispute against the owner of Wedia.com. The domain was registered in 1997 by a Japanese company that shut down the associated product line in 2013. Wedia SA appears to have started using the name in the mid 00’s.
Given the prior use of the domain and that it predates the Complainant’s use, the case was dead-on-arrival despite the domain owner not responding to the allegations.
But panelist Douglas Clark gave Wedia SA a pass. He noted that Wedia SA at least tried to contact the domain owner first (even offering money) and doesn’t appear to have been represented by outside counsel. Maybe so, but Wedia isn’t a small fish; it has €22 million in annual sales.
The domain owner didn’t respond so Clark didn’t have to answer to that party. He wrote:
Without evidence that the disputed domain name was registered in bad faith in 1997 (or that there had been a subsequent transfer in bad faith), the Complainant should have known that the proceedings were bound to fail. Nevertheless, the Complainant had sought to contact the Respondent prior to filing the complaint and made a reasonable offer of USD 3,000 to purchase the domain name but did not receive any reply from the Respondent. The Complainant appears to have prepared the complaint itself without taking external legal advice and does not appear to have been previously involved in UDRP proceedings. The Panel is, therefore, willing to give the Complainant the benefit of the doubt that it was not aware of the possibility of a RDNH finding. In the particular circumstances of this case, the Panel therefore determines that it is not necessary to make a declaration of Reverse Domain Name Hijacking.