A three member WIPO UDRP panel ruled in favor of the domain owner in the ALO.com UDRP. In addition, the panel ruled that Reverse Domain Name Hijacking (RDNH) occurred. The domain name owner was represented by ESQWire.com (Jason Schaeffer and Ari Goldberger), and this is the second case in the last couple of weeks for the law firm where a finding of RDNH was made.
This seems like a pretty cut and dry UDRP decision. It doesn’t really make sense that a complainant can win a UDRP when the domain name has been owned longer than the trademark of the company filing the UDRP even existed. In its argument, the complainant cited the “Octogen Case,” which was just discussed in a sponsored post the Internet Commerce Association wrote published on CircleID. Putting the theory of “retroactive bad faith” to rest is important for domain name investors.
I think there are several aspects of the UDRP decision that stand out for domain investor rights, and I want to highlight a few of them.
From the “Rights or Legitimate Interests” section of the decision:
“However, it is relevant to note that (i) the disputed domain name was registered several years before the Complainant’s filing of its trademark in the United States; (ii) the disputed domain name is constituted by a three-letter term which, as such, has an inherent value, as it may have a number of meanings and is used extensively by third parties as an acronym or a generic term; (iii) the disputed domain name has been pointed to a website displaying generic sponsored links that made no reference to the Complainant, its trademark and products; and (iv) the Respondent has demonstrated that it has engaged in the registration of several domain names incorporating common three-letter combinations that it hosts with domain name parking services, thus showing that its registration and use of the disputed domain name is consistent with its business model.”
Here’s why the panel found that this was a case of Reverse Domain Name Hijacking:
“In light of the circumstances of the case, the Panel makes a finding of Reverse Domain Name Hijacking since the Complainant ought to have known that it could not succeed under any fair interpretation of facts reasonably available prior to the filing of the Complaint, as the disputed domain name was registered several years before the Complainant’s existence and there is no evidence of the Respondent’s use of the disputed domain name in connection with the Complainant’s trademark.”
All in all, I think this was a good UDRP decision.