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Wow, just wow: This domain dispute

The Complainant must believe it has a crystal ball.

The word UDRP in Green on a grey background with green diagonal lines

A three-person National Arbitration Forum panel has denied a UDRP filed against the domain name but declined to find reverse domain name hijacking. And this case is a doozy.

BFD, Inc. and Barefoot Dreams, Inc. filed the case against Kanggeng Sheng.

The Complainant, which argues that it has rights in the mark dating to 2019 or 2020, argued, “Respondent is likely planning to use the disputed domain name to offer counterfeit or unauthorized versions of Complainant’s products.”

Wait, what?

When it filed the case, the Complainant didn’t know the domain owner’s identity. On what basis would you argue that someone acquired a valuable three letter domain with many uses to specifically sell counterfeit goods of a new brand?

The Complainant thought the domain was acquired this year, but it turns out the domain owner acquired it in 2018. I can see why before filing the case the Complainant thought it changed hands this year. But that doesn’t matter; making such as wild accusation about the domain owner’s intentions without proof is uncalled for.

The panel rightfully determined that the domain wasn’t registered and used in bad faith. But it declined to find reverse domain name hijacking. It wrote:

The name of Respondent was hidden by privacy service. It only transpired in Respondent’s Additional Submission that Respondent acquired the disputed domain name in August 2018. The date that Respondent became the registrant of the disputed domain name was important to Complainant but it was only revealed late in these proceedings. Therefore, the Complaint as initially filed was not bound to fail.

OK, I’ll give a bit of leniency here. Had the Respondent disclosed its ownership date in the initial filing, then the Complainant should have withdrawn its case because it was bound to fail. I’m not sure why the domain owner waited until a supplemental submission, but it doesn’t appear to have been represented by counsel.

But if you file a UDRP against an inherently valuable three letter domain name, you better have a really strong case. Not some crystal ball vision of what the domain owner plans to do with the domain.

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Author: Andrew Allemann

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