Thursday , August 11 2022

Buying an expiring domain? Might want to check this

The domain could already be subject to a UDRP.

logo for Solverde Casinos with a green background and image of a sun

A domain investor bought an expired domain that Solverde had already filed a UDRP against. The casino company won, and the domain buyer is suing to retain the domain.

Domain investors review a lot of data before buying expiring domain names. The more expensive the domain, the more data they check.

Sometimes I’ll Google the domain name to see how it’s used. I might even check a trademark database if the name seems like it might be a trademark. What I’ve never thought to do is see if the domain is subject to a current UDRP case.

After all, if a company decided to file a UDRP against a domain that was about to expire, wouldn’t they at least work with the registrar to make sure the renewal fee was paid?

Apparently not.

Turn Invest Group Ltd. bought SolVerde.com for $665 on NameJet in January after it expired. But the domain was already subject to a UDRP filed in November 2020. Despite being notified by the registrar of the pending expiration, neither World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) or the Complainant, casino company Solverde, S.A., apparently did anything about it.

So the domain expired and Turn Invest Group won a competitive auction.

According to the WIPO panel, the domain buyer should have searched to see if there was an active UDRP:

…The Respondent is a sophisticated domain name investor, and has been in this business since 2009.

Despite providing a detailed declaration, the Respondent did not provide any details of searches or due diligence the Respondent undertook prior to acquiring the disputed domain name at auction. A Google search of “SOLVERDE” conducted by the Panel resulted in many search results for the Complainant on the first page of the search results. Moreover, if the Respondent had searched the UDRP SEARCH database at “www.udrpsearch.com”, the Respondent would have seen that the disputed domain name was subject to an “active case”…

OK, I can buy searching Google to see if these two Spanish dictionary words are a well-known trademark used exclusively by one company. But checking for a UDRP?

The panel found in favor of Solverde, S.A.. Now, Turn Invest Group is suing to block the transfer.

The company filed a lawsuit (pdf) in U.S. District Court in Florida yesterday. It’s asking the court for declaratory relief that ownership of the domain is not infringing on Solverde S.A.’s trademarks and a finding of reverse domain name hijacking.

Howard Neu is local counsel for the plaintiff.

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