Legal News

Tilt.com UDRP Denied in “Unusual” Case

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In July of this year, Domain Gang published an article about Tilt.com. The domain name had been owned by Airbnb and was reportedly stolen from the company when the Whois registrant email domain name was acquired by a third party. Tilt.com was then registered to Greenberg & Lieberman, an Intellectual Property law firm and domain name escrow service provider.

Airbnb filed a UDRP at the National Arbitration Forum (NAF) in an attempt to recover the domain name. The decision was published this morning, and the single member panel ruled against Airbnb. The panelist found that the domain name was likely stolen but the complainant was unable to prove that the domain name was registered in bad faith given the current registrant. In order to have won the UDRP, Airbnb would have needed to prove the domain name was registered and being used in bad faith.

Here’s an excerpt from the decision:

UDRP Record Set at WIPO

An inglorious record has been set at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in 2021, and we still have nearly two months remaining in the year. From what I can see on the WIPO case filing page, it appears that more UDRP cases have been filed this year than in any prior year.

WIPO UDRP cases are listed by the year in which they were filed. The case numbers are in numeric order, and a link to each set of cases contains 200 UDRP filings. 2020 was the first year the case numbers reached the 3400 – 3599 set of UDRPs. In 2020, the highest case number was D2020-3561, which indicates that 3,561 (gTLD) UDRP cases were filed in that year.

Additional Brief Filed in Empower.com Suit

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The Empower.com lawsuit is important for reasons that go beyond a single domain name. In this litigation, you have a company that used Empower in its branding long before the Plaintiff’s Empower brand existed. Despite the history of the Empower.com domain name, the Plaintiff filed a cybersquatting lawsuit to wrest control of the valuable one word .com domain name from the longtime registrant, Empower Geographics.

I believe a victory by the Plaintiff in this litigation could pose significant harm to the domain name aftermarket. In my opinion, it would become more risky to own valuable one word or short acronym domain names if a company would be able to use the legal system to get control of a domain name that has been rightfully owned by another entity for years before that brand was even created.

Coinbase Got CoinbaseNFT.com After Filing UDRP

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In a blog post published yesterday afternoon, Coinbase announced that it would soon launch Coinbase NFT. According to the article Coinbase NFT will become “a peer-to-peer marketplace that will make minting, purchasing, showcasing, and discovering NFTs easier than ever.”

My guess is that Coinbase NFT will be found within the original Coinbase.com website, but the company also owns CoinbaseNFT.com. Whois records at DomainTools show that CoinbaseNFT.com is registered at MarkMonitor, and the domain name was created in March of this year.

GIVN.com UDRP Complaint Denied

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GIVN.com was the subject a UDRP filing at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). The decision was published today, and the panelist, Robert A. Badgley, ruled in favor of the domain registrant. The complaint was filed by a company called GIVN Goods, Inc., which operates on GivnWater.com. The domain registrant was represented by Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP.

According to the decision, the domain registrant purchased the domain name at auction. NameBio shows that GIVN.com was acquired via NameJet in May of this year for $6,400.

Respond with the Help of a Good Attorney

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One of the things I have learned over the years is that no matter how descriptive a domain name is, there is always the risk that a company will believe it has more rights to the domain name than an investor has. Sometimes, a company will start off by sending a Cease & Desist letter (C&D) to the registrant in an effort to scare the registrant into giving up the domain name for nothing or a pittance. This can be the first salvo in a long legal battle or it can be the last communication.

Responding (or not responding) to a C&D letter may depend on the situation. While it might be tempting to respond on your own, particularly in the case of a serious overreach, I think it is best to hire a good IP attorney with domain name expertise to evaluate the situation and come up with a best response (or non-response). An attorney might suggest how to reply or might be able to write a strong response if necessary, depending on the exact situation.

Logan Flatt shared a brief snippet about a recent situation he was in and gave thanks to attorney Jason Schaeffer for his assistance:

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