In the Gekko.com UDRP decision I wrote about yesterday morning, the panelist wrote, “The Panel finds that Respondent’s offer to sell the disputed domain name to Complainant is not relevant as Respondent was first approached by Complainant to sell the disputed domain name.” (emphasis added by me). This seems to imply that it would be relevant if the respondent had approached the complainant rather than the other way around. This bothers me.
One of my companies is called Top Notch Domains, LLC, and I have used TopNotchDomains.com for my website for 10 years. I would love to own TopNotch.com. Not only would it be easier for me to share, but it is easier for people to remember. It’s also a valuable asset because there are so many companies called “Top Notch” something or other. I know the domain name has been owned for a very long time, so I don’t even bother to inquire about it. I figure the owner is using it and perhaps it would be too expensive for me to buy.
That said, I would love it if the owner reached out to me at some point to tell me he is interested in selling the domain name. It would be awesome to have the opportunity to buy this great domain name from the owner as soon as he is ready to sell. The owner, who has owned it for a very long time, should have the right to put his domain name on the market and reach out to the best candidates for the domain name, which are obviously people who use “Top Notch” in their branding.
From my perspective, what the panelist said in the Gekko.com UDRP decision could mean that if the TopNotch.com domain owner were to email me and others to let us know TopNotch.com is available for sale, it could be a strike against him in the UDRP decision. I think this is bad. I understand that there are other requirements that would need to be met for a successful UDRP, but I don’t think the owner of a generic / descriptive domain name should be penalized simply by attempting to sell his valuable domain name to the most obvious prospective buyers.
For any savvy domain owners out there who are familiar with UDRP decisions, this could have a chilling effect on their willingness to offer their domain name for sale. I would certainly think twice about reaching out to companies whose brands make up one of my domain names, even if there are dozens of brands that share the same name. I have been offered a lot of money for Embrace.com, but if I ever decide to put it on the market, I certainly wouldn’t consider outbound marketing if there is a chance a UDRP panelist could penalize me for it.
I think this is unfortunate for brands who could benefit from a generic domain name upgrade. Domain owners may be more reluctant to reach out to sell their domain names.