Travelzoo buys meta domain despite active trademark violations
Travelzoo is an internet company that publishes deals from more than 5,000 travel, entertainment and local businesses such as restaurants and spas.
Founded in 1998, Travelzoo provides its 30 million members “exclusive offers and one-of-a-kind experiences personally reviewed by our deal experts around the globe.”
The company operates from the domain Travelzoo.com and applied for the registration of the mark TRAVELZOO in 1999; it was registered in 2001 and was renewed in 2021.
Being in the possession of a registered mark is a great starting point when filing a UDRP to pursuit domains that infringe on that mark. In the case of Travelzoo, they chose a different angle regarding the domain name TravelzooMeta.com.
As seen in the capture below, the domain TravelzooMETA.com was carefully cased when parked for sale at Dan.com: Travelzoo as a single word with capitalized META as the secondary part.
When listing domain names for sale, Dan customers are obligated to follow terms and conditions related to third party marks:
It is not permitted to offer for sale and/or place on the Website any domain names that infringe on the patent, copyright, trademark, trade secret, right of publicity or other intellectual property rights of any Third Parties, or that are considered to have a tainted history (such as blackhat SEO) or are obtained in an unlawful manner (such as stolen domain names).
Third parties whose marks are violated can report these listings. In the case of TravelzooMeta.com, the domain received an inquiry. The quoted price, $20,000 dollars, was not accepted, but the other party (Travelzoo) agreed to purchase the domain name for $16,500 dollars instead.
We cannot confirm that the domain was indeed exchanged for money but the news of the sale was shared via a reputable Chinese domain investor on Twitter.
The domain TravelzooMeta.com was registered with a Chinese domain registrar on March 15, 2022. The day prior, Travelzoo announced the creation of its new Metaverse division and the plan to begin the launch of its Travelzoo META service in April 2022.
It’s quite evident that the domain was registered as a direct public disclosure of the service’s future availability and although Travelzoo failed to secure the domain prior to the announcement, it was under no obligation to pay for a domain that contains its registered trademark—that’s what the UDRP process is for.
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