Front running is the act of attempting to sell a domain name that is not owned by the person who is making the sale attempt. Unfortunately, front running has become more common, and I wrote about front running during NameJet auctions a few years ago. There was an interesting UDRP decision that domain auction participants will want to note because front running almost cost the domain registrant a domain name.
A company called Everphone GmbH filed a UDRP to get the Everphone.com domain name. This domain name sold on NameJet for $842 in January of this year, according to NameBio. According to the complainant in this UDRP, it seems that two entities contacted the complainant either during or prior to the auction claiming to be willing to sell this domain name. Because the complainant had been dealing with entities that seem to have been front running this domain name, the auction winner and current registrant was not aware of these other emails when the complainant approached him about selling the domain name.
In the UDRP decision, the domain registrant’s attorney Jason Schaeffer (of ESQWire.com) did a good job explaining that the two prior contacts were made by front runners and not made by the domain registrant, who didn’t own the domain name at the time time. In the decision, the three member panel understands what happened and did not hold it against the domain registrant:
“Accordingly, the Panel accepts the Respondent’s assertion that both Chapdomains and Regystro were engaged in “front running”, i.e. that they had become aware of the auction and were speculating with a view to acquiring and quickly selling on the disputed domain name if they managed to do a deal with the Complainant. It follows that whatever action they took cannot be ascribed to the Respondent.”
There have been a number of times I have been contacted by someone after an auction who believes I offered a domain name for sale to them. They don’t often understand that it was someone who was frontrunning the domain name, and this can be confusing. I am glad the panel was able to make the distinction between front runners and the domain registrant.
Another aspect of the decision is good for domain registrants who may have lost a UDRP before:
” In the context of a large domain name portfolio and eight pro-Respondent UDRP decisions, the Panel does not consider that the one adverse UDRP decision should be treated as an indicator of bad faith in the different circumstances of this case.”
The panel found that the domain name wasn’t bought in bad faith, so the domain registrant won this UDRP decision. This is a decision domain owners who regularly participate in auctions will want to keep in mind. It is also a decision domain owners may wish to think about when deciding whether or not to hire a UDRP attorney for the defense.