Nat Cohen’s Telepathy won a UDRP that was filed against AirZone.com, a domain name the company registered in 1999. The three member panel also found that the complaint to be Reverse Domain Name Hijacking (RDNH). The UDRP was defended by domain attorney Zak Muscovitch of DNAttorney.com.
There were several factors that contributed to the decision. Among the factors that stood out the most for me:
- Telepathy registered several (keyword)Zone.com domain names on the same day and at around the same time, showing that the company didn’t target the complainant.
- Telepathy owns a variety of generic domain names, such as this one, which are owned legitimately and without the purpose of infringing on the trademarks of other companies.
- Complainant made an offer to buy the domain name
- There were several purchase offers from a variety of companies, which showed that there are many entities that could use the domain name and that the complainant’s brand wasn’t targeted by the owner.
- Complainant filed the UDRP 12 years after submitting its purchase offer and apparently never contacted the domain owner at any point in between.
From a domain investment standpoint, the panel’s finding in the section regarding registering and using the domain name in bad faith is what stands out the most and can be used by domain owners in subsequent UDRP proceedings. Here are a couple of key excerpts:
“The Respondent combines dictionary English words registering these as domain names and uses them as advertising portals, or to sell those domain names for their generic value. The Respondent has done this with many domain names, including others registered in the same month as the disputed domain name that also add “zone” to common words, <latinzone.com> and <equityzone.com>.
The Panel is of the view that this can be a legitimate business practice and not a use in bad faith, so long as the intent is to capitalize on the dictionary value of the words comprising the domain name and not to exploit the value of third-party trademarks.”
“The view of the Panel in this case is that this is a credible defense, because the disputed domain name is comprised of two English dictionary words (“air” and “zone”), and the website associated with the disputed domain name is in the English language and advertises products apparently aimed at a predominantly American market, without including links to the Complainant or competitors of the Complainant. In this regard, the Panel finds it more reasonable to assume that when registering the domain name, the Respondent’s purpose was just to capitalize the dictionary value of words of common use and not for any other purposes.”
The panel took all of the facts of the case and decided that it was Reverse Domain Name Hijacking. There is no penalty for a RDNH finding, but there is no added cost for the panel to consider it either.
It is good to see a case like this go in favor of a domain name owner whose ownership was challenged after a negotiation failed and after the domain name was owned for nearly 20 years.