RDNH Finding without a Response to UDRP

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I think having a good life is the goal for most people. Who doesn’t want to have a good life? A UDRP was filed against the generic-sounding GoodLife.com domain name at WIPO. Unfortunately, seeing a UDRP filed against a valuable domain name like GoodLife.com is not a surprise. The UDRP decision, however, was surprising to me.

For whatever reason, the domain registrant did not file a response to the UDRP. Generally speaking, this does not bode well for the registrant because the complainant can say what it wants without a rebuttal from the registrant. In this UDRP proceeding, not only did the complainant lose, but the panelist ruled this was a case of Reverse Domain Name Hijacking. The UDRP panelist on this case was Assen Alexiev.

The UDRP was unsuccessful because the panelist found the domain name was not registered and used in bad faith. This is a requirement of the UDRP to succeed. Here’s what the panelist wrote in that section of the UDRP:

“The disputed domain name was registered seventeen years prior to the registration of the GOODLIFE trademark and is composed of the dictionary words “good” and “life”, the combination of which can have various legitimate uses unrelated to the Complainant or its trademark. The Complainant does not explain the extent of renown of its mark in 1999 (its claimed first use in commerce) and moreover does not claim to have existed in 1998, when the disputed domain name was registered, and has not provided any evidence that the website at the disputed domain name has at any time targeted the Complainant or its GOODLIFE trademark. Rather, it appears that the disputed domain name has been inactive. The Complainant has not explained how the Respondent could have registered the disputed domain name in bad faith in light of these circumstances. The Complainant states that the Respondent has attempted to sell the disputed domain name to it for an “exorbitant price”, which the Panel is prepared to take at face value, but has in any event provided no supporting evidence.

While it is possible that the disputed domain name changed hands subsequent to the Complainant’s first use in commerce or trademark registration, the disputed domain name registration was initially under a privacy service, and moreover the Complainant has not presented any evidence (if it would be available e.g., through a detailed search report) or made any arguments to this effect. In view of the above, based on the facts before the Panel, the Respondent could not have known of the Complainant at the time when it registered the disputed domain name and could not have targeted it with this registration. Therefore, the Panel concludes that the Complainant has failed to establish that the Respondent has registered the disputed domain name in bad faith.

The Policy requires the Complainant to establish that the Respondent has both registered and used the disputed domain name in bad faith. Since the Complainant has failed to establish bad faith registration, the Complaint must fail, and it is not necessary to decide whether the disputed domain name has been used in bad faith. Nevertheless, the Panel notes that there is no evidence of any use of the disputed domain name after its registration, and the Complainant’s allegation that the Respondent has attempted to sell the disputed domain name to it is not supported by any evidence.”

In most UDRP cases, this is the end of the discussion. The panelist will deny the UDRP and close it out. Panelists don’t always consider RDNH even when a registrant requests that finding. In this decision, the panelist considered RDNH and concluded “that the Complainant has engaged in Reverse Domain Name Hijacking.” Here’s an excerpt from the panelist’s view of RDNH:

“The Complainant is represented by counsel. It should have taken into account that the Respondent has been the owner of the disputed domain name for a long period of time, which started seventeen years before the registration of the Complainant’s GOODLIFE trademark and nearly a year before its claimed first use in commerce, and should have appreciated the established Policy precedent that where a respondent registers a domain name before the complainant’s trademark rights accrue, panels will not normally find bad faith on the part of the respondent. It would be incumbent on the Complainant to advance any facts supporting a claim to a later acquisition of the disputed domain name by the Respondent, if such fact exists. The Complainant should have also appreciated the lack of any evidence of targeting of the Complainant by the Respondent through the use of the disputed domain name. In view of the above, the Complainant should have appreciated that it would not be able to prevail on the issue of bad faith under the Policy.”

Kudos to the panelist for taking it upon himself to consider RDNH in this UDRP.

About The Author: Elliot Silver is an Internet entrepreneur and publisher of DomainInvesting.com. Elliot is also the founder and President of Top Notch Domains, LLC, a company that has closed eight figures in deals. Please read the DomainInvesting.com Terms of Use page for additional information about the publisher, website comment policy, disclosures, and conflicts of interest. Reach out to Elliot: Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn

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