A UDRP was filed against the high value 1919.com domain name at the National Arbitration Forum (NAF). The complainant in the UDRP is a company called 1919, LLC, and the domain registrant did not respond to the UDRP. The UDRP was decided by a single panelist, The Honourable Neil Anthony Brown QC, and the UDRP was decided in favor of the complainant.
At a quick glance, I was surprised to see the complainant prevail, despite the fact that the registrant did not file a response to the proceeding. I don’t recall many other UDRP cases involving short numeric domain names that were decided in favor of a complainant.
After reading the decision, there was a key finding from the panelist that likely weighed heavily on the decision:
“Complainant registered the <1919.com> domain name domain name in the year 2001. In or about the year 2004, an employee of Complainant, namely Alan Wong, wrongfully caused the domain name to be registered in his own name as registrant. On or about June 21, 2011 Respondent wrongfully registered the domain name by way of transfer from Alan Wong who had no authority to transfer the domain name to Respondent.”
When I read the dispute, I wondered why it took nearly 9 years for the complainant to file a UDRP. If one of my domain names went missing, I would go after it right away. The Rights or Legitimate Interests section of the decision seemed to offer an explanation about the delay. “(c) Respondent has caused the disputed domain name to resolve to Complainant’s own website;”
From my reading of the decision, it would appear that the 1919.com domain name was transferred without authorization, and the complainant’s website subsequently continued to resolve at 1919.com. At some point in time, the 1919 company realized the domain name was no longer registered to the company, and the company filed a UDRP to remedy this. Because the company’s branding and marks matched the 1919 in the domain name, and because the domain registrant did not respond to refute any of the complainant’s argument, the panelist ruled in favor of the registrant.
I don’t like seeing an investment grade domain name like this being transferred to a complainant via UDRP, but assuming the evidence provided by the complainant is factual, I think the panelist made the right call here.