Saturday , March 25 2023

RDNH Finding in UDRP

A UDRP was filed against the domain name at the National Arbitration Forum (NAF). The complainant in the UDRP is the company associated with the rock band called Simple Plan. According to NameBio, the domain name was sold for $1,675 in October of 2021 at GoDaddy Auctions.

According to the information in the decision that was just published, the band had owned for 20 years. It appears that the domain name expired due to some issues with renewing the domain name. Here’s an excerpt from the complainant’s contention regarding the expiry:

“When the domain name renewal date came up in 2021, the company, website and email addresses had disappeared. It proved impossible to get in touch with anyone at that registrar. Complainant tried to use its credentials to login and move the domain somewhere else, but the website was unresponsive and offline, and it was thus impossible to do so. Complainant tried to correspond with Tucows Domains Inc. (“Tucows”) since it appeared that was acquired by Tucows or that their clients were transferred to Tucows. Being unable to get a response from Tucows and, Complainant was unable to renew its registration for the domain name and the registration lapsed through no fault of its own. It was acquired by Respondent on October 21, 2021.”

Despite the fact that the complainant had owned the domain name for 20 years, the three member panel found in favor of the domain registrant, who had apparently acquired the domain name in relation to a new brand he planned to create for his existing travel business. The panel also found it was a case of Reverse Domain Name Hijacking. The domain registrant was represented by attorney Howard Neu.

The primary reason the complainant lost the case is because the “simple plan” term is generic. Here’s what the panel wrote about that:

“The words “simple” and “plan” are generic, both separately and together. They also comprise Complainant’s SIMPLEPLAN trademark, registered in relation to entertainment and clothing. Those trademark registrations do not confer upon Complainant a monopoly on the use of those words in fields other than entertainment and clothing. The Panel finds their use in the domain name in relation to a travel-related website operating in the way described by Respondent is entirely legitimate. The Panel therefore finds that, before any notice to Respondent of the dispute, Respondent has used the domain name in connection with a bona fide offering of travel-related services.”

In addition, the panel appears to have taken issue with some misrepresentations about the complainant’s attempt to acquire the domain name after the domain registrant acquired it. This is seemingly what led to the finding of Reverse Domain Name Hijacking. Here’s an excerpt from the RDNH discussion:

“The Panel finds that Complainant and its counsel have repeatedly misrepresented the facts in the present case, in particular by asserting, without supporting evidence, that Respondent was somehow responsible for Complainant’s inability to renew the domain name and that he subsequently initiated an offer to sell the domain name back to Complainant.”

I do feel a bit badly for the band because of what it apparently went through in trying to renew the domain name. On the flip side, the domain registrant apparently acquired this generic name for a business, and it acquired the domain name legitimately at auction. Perhaps these two parties will find some common ground and be able to work out a deal for the domain name.

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