A company called UNIKS APP, S.L. of Barcelona, Spain filed a UDRP at the World Intellectual Property Organization for the Uniks.com domain name. The domain name owner (respondent) was represented by ESQwire.com, the Internet and domain name focused law firm led by Ari Goldberger and Jason Schaeffer. Interestingly, it is the second UDRP victory of the week for ESQwire, which also represented the owner in the Meryl.com UDRP.
To get straight to the point, this three member WIPO panel decided in favor of the respondent, who will retain the Uniks.com domain name. In fact, the panel ruled that this was a case of Reverse Domain Name Hijacking. In a harshly written tone, here’s how the panel ruled in that regard:
“Taking into account all of the above the Panel has no hesitation in finding that the present case amounts to RDNH by the Complainant. The case is completely misconceived and without any merit at all. The Panel notes the Complaint is self-represented but does not consider this excuses the Complainant’s conduct in filing this Complaint. There are only two possibilities. Either (1) the Complainant knew its case was without merit and filed it anyway, presumably hoping it would somehow fail to be considered fully by a Panel and hence result in a ruling in its favor; or (2) the Complainant has misunderstood the Policy and the Rules and failed to understand the problems with its case – but the Panel does not regard this as acceptable, as common sense should have alerted the Complainant to the fact that its case was not straightforward, and a review of the materials the Center makes available on its website would have enabled the Complainant to realize its Complaint could not succeed.
Whatever the reasons this is a Complaint which should never have been filed. The Respondent understandably fearing it could be deprived of a valuable asset if the case was not defended, chose to retain external counsel and file a response, no doubt at considerable cost. It has been wrongly put to the time, cost and trouble of defending the case. Furthermore (as often happens in such cases) the Respondent elected to have a three person Panel determine the case, which involves the incurring by the Respondent of still further cost. Beyond finding RDNH the Panel has no power to sanction the Complainant for this conduct, but the Panel deplores the fact that a baseless Complaint of this nature was filed. The Panel therefore finds that the Complaint was brought in bad faith and constitutes an abuse of the administrative proceeding.”
According to the factual background section of the decision, the complainant sought to buy the domain name but its $1,500 offer was countered with an offer that certainly does not sound unreasonable to me:
“The Complainant, acting through an individual and without revealing its identity sought to purchase the Disputed Domain Name from the Respondent in August 2015. An offer of USD 1500 was made. A reply indicated that the Respondent was seeking a sum “in the upper four figures+”. Negotiations did not proceed any further.”
In situations like this, it is very unfortunate that a domain name owner had to spend (likely) thousands of dollars defending its right to own this domain name. On the other hand, the complainant spent (likely) far less as it was internally represented and probably only had to pay the UDRP filing fee.
Without any type of penalty for a RDNH finding, it seems some complainants are willing to roll the dice to try and wrest control of a domain name for less than it would cost by purchasing it. The downside for the complainant is that this domain name likely became significantly more expensive to acquire, or perhaps not even available for sale any longer.