I’ve heard differing opinions about setting up a catch all email for domain names owned by investors. What this means is that any email sent to any email address for that domain name will be delivered to an inbox controlled by the domain registrant. Whether emails received are typos or spam messages, everything gets delivered. I have never been a fan of doing this, and a recent UDRP loss illustrates why it can put a domain name in peril.
A UDRP was filed against Magna.CO at WIPO. The complainant, Magna International Inc., uses the Magna.com domain name for its website. When I saw that the Magna.CO domain name was lost in the UDRP, I was curious to see what happened. In my opinion, without considering the usage of the domain name, Magna seems like a generic term. As such, Magna.CO should conceivably be safe to own.
According to the complaint, the domain registrant set up a catch-all email address and used that is part of a pitch to sell the domain name to the UDRP complainant. Here’s an excerpt from the decision containing the message that was sent to the complainant:
“In August 2020, the Respondent contacted the Complainant via LinkedIn, stating in relevant part as follows:
“I own domain name and I am reaching out to few companies to explore a possible sale of the domain name.
When I setup the email address for magna.co to contact potential end users, I started receiving business emails concerning your company (check attachment).
Would you be interested in owning this domain name to protect your business information and brand?”
The Complainant rejected this initial offer to buy the disputed domain name. The Respondent then sent another LinkedIn message as follows:
“Thank you for your reply. I thought its better that your company owns this domain name. In the last three weeks I got 350+ emails concerning your company.
Imagine your competitors American Axle & Manufacturing, Lear Corporation, Visteon, Faurecia, Linamar, Aptiv or Gentex owning the domain name and what information they can extract from the emails to gain advantage on your company. It can be a minor leak with serious consequences.
Once the domain is sold to an end user its very difficult and expensive to own. If you are reconsidering this matter, Visit magna.co and submit your offer.””
One of the biggest reasons for losing the dispute was because of the catch-all email address that was created. Here’s what the panelist noted in the decision:
“Simply put, the evidence before the Panel makes it appear more likely than not that the Respondent registered the disputed domain name to profit in bad faith from its connection to Complainant’s mark and email address ending and the misdirected emails that the Respondent likely knew it would receive from the catch-all email inbox Respondent created with the disputed domain name.”
I don’t love the idea of setting up a catch all email address, and I think the strategy of contacting the owner of the .com domain name was not a good idea.