An interesting UDRP case involving an expired domain – domain name wire
This panelist includes expired domain names.
National Arbitration Forum published an interesting case decision today involving a domain recovered from DropCatch.com.
Dr Alan Y. Chow, d / b / a Optobionics, owned the domain optobionics.com but let it expire. Janez Bobnik acquired the domain from DropCatch.com and created what I would call a “skeleton blog” on the domain.
When the complainant realized that the domain had expired, he asked Bobnik to give him the domain. Bobnik said he would transfer it for $ 1,850, which represents the cost of acquiring the domain, creating the blog, and hosting. Instead of paying this amount, the plaintiff filed a UDRP against the domain. He lost the case.
Panelist Aaron Newell did an informed review of drop catch domain names and explains that purchasing an expired domain does not prove that the domain owner has targeted the complainant. He wrote:
The mere fact that the Respondent acquired the domain name from Dropcatch is, in the opinion of this Panel, insufficient to make a presumption that it should have constructive knowledge of the Complainant and his rights.
Even if I’m wrong about this, there is a basis for a presumption of equal force that if someone acquires a domain name from Dropcatch (or any back-end / after-sales service), it is because this domain name is outdated and, therefore, is not of more interest to the previous registrant. Most registrants will define “auto-renew” for important domain names if they are essential to their business.
For the sake of completeness, the Panel should add here that the Respondent does not say that he has not heard of or that he was not aware of the Complainant and / or his use of the domain name before proceeding. acquire the domain name, but it also does not say that it made know the complainant before registering the domain name.
Consequently, on the whole of the evidence, the file itself does not demonstrate any basis on which the Panel can conclude that, on a balance of probabilities, the Respondent was targeting the Complainant with its domain name registration …
… It is theoretically possible that before registering the domain name, the defendant realized that there was a possibility that the previous owner inadvertently allowed it to perish and, in turn, could attempt to recover it. with the defendant in due time, possibly allowing the respondent to make a profit on the domain name.
However, there is simply no convincing evidence advanced by the Complainant to support this theory, and therefore there is no available evidence that allows the Panel to conclude that, on a balance of probabilities, the Respondent targeted the Complainant in his domain name registration. …
I’ve spoken to a lot of people who think drop catch is a practice where people buy domains and sell them back to the previous owner. This may have been part of the business many years ago, but ICANN has notification requirements in place that make it extremely unlikely that a domain will expire without the owner’s knowledge. This includes the required notifications and a name server change well before a domain goes through the full expiration cycle. If the person is using the domain for an active website, that website will shut down, alerting them of the expiration. In all of my years of investing in estates, I can count on one hand the number of past owners who have inquired about an estate I have acquired has been declining.
Newell retorted another of the complainant’s interesting points. The complainant argued that the domain owner suggesting to use Escrow.com somehow suggests bad faith:
The Complainant notes that the Respondent offered to perform the transaction using escrow.com and in turn assets that the Respondent’s proposal to use escrow.com is evidence of a “familiarity with the rapid transfer of domain names for a profit. “
The Panel is particularly surprised by this line of argument. This allegation is entirely speculative and there are a number of good faith reasons why the Respondent would wish to conduct a secure transaction with respect to the domain name. The complainant himself would surely have sought to use escrow.com or a similar service if he had accepted a monetary settlement.
Reading between the lines, it seems Newell thought it could be a reverse domain name hijacking case, but decided not to comment on it. He wrote:
Neither party commented on the reverse domain name hijacking. I will therefore stop before this point and simply find that the Complainant has not met the relevant criteria for the transfer and / or cancellation of the domain name which, therefore, should remain with the Respondent.
This case is another example of someone spending more to file a UDRP request (after alleged legal fees) than it would have cost to acquire a domain name. There are times when that makes sense, but you better be sure you have a sturdy case and don’t phone her.
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