Dribbble Loses Effort to Get Dribble.com via UDRP

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A company called Dribbble (notice the 3 “b’s” in its branding) filed a UDRP to try and wrest control of the Dribble.com domain name, which had been owned by the registrant since 1997. As I suspected when I saw the initial UDRP filing, the domain owner won the UDRP proceeding and will be allowed to retain the domain name.

The domain owner has owned Dribble.com for many years. According to the decision, “When the Complaint was filed, the disputed domain name resolved to a website which essentially consisted of pay-per-click links for services such as logo design, website design, illustration design, flyer design, graphic design and the like.” In a UDRP though, the complainant must prove that the domain name was registered and is being used in bad faith. The first part of that would seem to be impossible given the registration date and the date Dribbble was founded.

Here’s what the panel ruled:

“In the present case, it appears that the Respondent registered the disputed domain name in 1997; that is, some 12 years before the Complainant adopted its trademark. There is no suggestion in the record in this case that the Respondent had any notice of the Complainant’s plans. And, as the Respondent notes, the word “dribble” is an ordinary English word. In these circumstances and notwithstanding the manner of use of the disputed domain name made by the Respondent now, a conclusion that the Respondent registered the disputed domain name in bad faith is not feasible. “

I was a bit surprised the panel did not rule that this was a case of Reverse Domain Name Hijacking (RDNH). In my opinion, Dribbble should have known from the start the case was doomed because there is no way the domain owner registered the domain name in bad faith given the date of its founding and when the domain was registered. My reading is that the panelist did not want to give the domain owner a finding of RDNH because of the way the domain name is currently being used, but I disagree.

For those who follow UDRP proceedings, one might think about the importance of the ICA’s successful advocacy for the discrediting of the “Retroactive Bad Faith” (RBF) argument in UDRP proceedings when thinking about this UDRP. There is nothing to indicate that the panelist would have made this ruling, but this seems like the type of UDRP that could have gone the other way if that was an option.

4 COMMENTS

    • Why would that have been necessary?

      The domain owner self-represented here, and had it gone to court, it could have been much more expensive taken more time, and opened itself up to litigation. The owner could have been countersued under the ACPA and become subjected to financial penalties (up to $100k) in addition to losing the domain name.

      If you were the owner, would you have been willing to spend $25-50k on legal fees (plus potentially opening your company up to financial penalties) when the alternative of defending the UDRP likely cost nothing and resulted in a win?

      If Dribbble were to take this to court, the owner could then countersue for RDNH and everyone spends a lot of money on lawyers.

    • I think the point is there is no repercussion to companies filing frivoulous UDRP’s. A finding of reverse hijacking does nothing really.

    • It stinks, but that is a cost of doing business and a risk of this business. On the other hand, the UDRP is less expensive than litigation and a domain owner who loses in litigation would lose the name and be liable for financial penalty.

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