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Speaker hit for reverse domain name hijacking

A keynote speaker and business coach filed a UDRP after failing to buy a domain name. It appears he got bad advice.

Reverse domain name hijacking graphic

Darryl Davis Seminars, Inc has been found to have engaged in reverse domain name hijacking over the domain name PowerAgent.con. A domain investor owns the domain name.

A World Intellectual Property panel determined that Darryl Davis Seminars, Inc did not show that the domain was registered in bad faith. The three-member panel decided that it was a “Plan B” reverse domain name hijacking case in which Davis filed a cybersquatting complaint under UDRP after failing to buy the domain name for a price he wanted to pay.

A couple of years ago he inquired about buying the domain name and received a quote of around $70,000. He responded to it by saying he had been “advised by his attorneys that he had a viable claim to recover the domain name via the UDRP” and offered $375.

The domain owner responded to that letter explaining why the case would fail under UDRP and would be considered reverse domain name hijacking. The Respondent heard nothing more until the UDRP filing, according to the decision.

After the Complainant filed the UDRP, the Respondent tried to contact the Complainant again to remind him “on the off chance that the Complainant had not disclosed to its counsel the existence of the Respondent’s previous warning letter and that as a result, the Complaint was brought in error as a misadventure. The Respondent called and sent an email to the Complainant’s counsel and offered the Complainant a final opportunity to withdraw the Complaint with prejudice but received no reply.”

The panel listed four reasons for finding reverse domai nname hijacking:

i) the Complainant, which is represented by counsel, should have appreciated the weakness of its case and the fact that the term “power agent” encompassed in the disputed domain name cannot be exclusively referable to the Complainant, as claimed in the Complaint without any supporting evidence;

ii) the Complainant’s case is based on the argument that using a common/descriptive domain name in connection with a pay-per-click website and offering it for sale to the highest bidder, independently of any awareness of the Complainant, is of itself evidence of bad faith. The Panel finds that the Complainant should have contemplated that it could not succeed with such an argument;

iii) the Respondent’s response to the letter received by the Complainant before the filing of the Complaint highlighted the weakness of the Complainant’s case, but the Complainant omitted to address the issues raised by the Respondent and even to disclose the existence of such correspondence; and

iv) the circumstances of the case clearly show that this is a speculative “plan B case” launched by the Complainant after its failure to purchase the domain name from the Respondent.

Carter, DeLuca, Farrell & Schmidt, LLP represented the Complainant. Muscovitch Law represented the domain owner. The WIPO panel included Luca Barbero, Martin Schwimmer and Adam Taylor.

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Author: Andrew Allemann

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