A UDRP was filed at the National Arbitration Forum (NAF) involving the SNN.com domain name. The decision was released this morning, and the single panelist (The Honourable Neil Anthony Brown QC) denied the UDRP. While it is generally good to see a decision like this on a valuable LLL.com domain name, this one appears to have some extenuating circumstances (allegedly).
In the discussion section of the UDRP, the complainant alleges that the SNN.com domain name was stolen. Here are some excerpts from the UDRP decision that allege theft of the domain name:
“Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the domain name. Respondent used identity fraud and social engineering to obtain ownership of the domain name. See Compl. Ex. D (Timeline of Theft).”
“Respondent registered and is using the domain name in bad faith. The domain name was probably hijacked in order to sell to a third party, as 3-letter domain names are very valuable in the industry. Further, Respondent’s behavior in stealing the domain name itself indicates bad faith.”
“Complainant is resident in the United States of America and claims that he owned and used the domain name from 2002 until it was allegedly stolen in 2017.”
The current domain registrant (UDRP respondent) replied to the UDRP proceeding and stated that the domain name was acquired legitimately. The respondent also provided an adequate defense for the domain name beyond the theft aspect. Here are a couple of excerpts from the decision:
“The disputed domain name is not identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which Complainant has rights. Complainant’s company name is Summerhome News Network which is not the same as .”
“Respondent acquired the disputed domain name legitimately, renewed the registration with the concerned registrar and paid all sums invoiced.”
The panelist ruled in favor of the domain registrant because the complainant was unable to prove that the domain name is confusingly similar to the complainant’s marks, and the complainant needs to prove all 3 elements of the UDRP in order to win. If the domain name was stolen/hijacked as alleged in the complaint, the complainant is going to have to take legal action in a US court to try and get the domain name.
I have seen UDRP filings involving allegedly stolen domain names be decided both ways depending on the circumstances. More often than not in cases involving an allegedly stolen domain name, the respondent does not respond to the UDRP, making it a bit easier for the complainant to win the UDRP. I don’t think the UDRP process was set up to deal with allegations of domain name theft though.