An interior design company in Finland called Vallila filed a UDRP to try and wrest control of the Vallila.com domain name from its rightful owner. The company operates on Vallila.fi, so owning the exact match .com domain name would have been ideal for them. Instead of buying the domain name, which the company tried to do but failed, the company opted to file a UDRP instead. They failed at that approach as well.
Vallila is a neighborhood in Helsinki, Finland. As such, owning the geographic exact match .com domain name is fair game. A company called Linkz Internet Services has owned Vallila.com for quite some time, and the Uniregistry-parked page has travel related advertising displayed.
In the UDRP decision, it was revealed that the company tried to acquire Vallila.com. The complainant discussed this in its filing, but apparently left out some pertinent information that was provided by the respondent’s attorney, John Berryhill. Here’s an excerpt from the section in the UDRP decision discussing Reverse Domain Name Hijacking:
The Complainant, a Finnish interior furnishings company, failed to disclose material pre-dispute correspondence in which the Complainant’s attorney was pretending to purchase the domain name for its geographic significance (it is a neighborhood of Helsinki, Finland). The Complainant nowhere mentioned that the term is primarily geographic:
“In this case, however, the Complainant did not disclose that Vallila is the name of a place. Rather, it argued that the only possible reason for registering the disputed domain name was to take advantage of its significance as the Complainant’s trademark. Moreover, the Complainant relied on the communication from the Respondent’s broker offering the disputed domain name for sale for USD32,000 as evidence of both registration and use in bad faith.
However, it turned out that the Complainant had only disclosed part of the communications chain – the part viewed in isolation that was strongly favourable to it. The Complainant did not disclose its agent’s own communication to the broker in which the agent said:
“I’m a private person and would be interested in buying the domain for the use of our flea market/circulation group active in Vallila (which is a city part in Helsinki, Finland). …” (emphasis supplied).
This communication underlines the geographic significance of Vallila and is highly relevant to the issues raised, in particular under the second and third limbs of the Policy. The failure to disclose it had the potential to mislead the Panel in a way which could be, and in this case is, highly material to the Panel’s decision. The Complainant has not offered any explanation for that partial and highly prejudicial disclosure. Given the nature of administrative proceedings under the Policy as proceedings on the written submissions and supporting papers only, such partial disclosure cannot be condoned and warrants a finding that the Complainant has acted in bad faith in bringing this proceeding.”
It should go without saying, but all communications with prospective domain name buyers should be saved indefinitely. One of the benefits of the Uniregistry platform is that communications are archived and can easily be referenced in the future if necessary. Not only is it good to know how things were left in a negotiation, but complainants may reference their purchase inquiry and discussion in a UDRP. If this happens, they may not be forthcoming about the content of the discussion.
The content from the negotiation almost certainly doomed the UDRP from its outset, and it appears to be the deciding factor in the finding of Reverse Domain Name Hijacking (RDNH).