Bully free zoneProvocative subject line, but here are two examples of “big players” trying to acquire valuable acronym domains from a “little guy” by legal manoeuvrings.

When their initial “lowball” offers were rejected, they decided to “go legal” rather than try and negotiate a fair market price. In my opinion, this is a type of bullying.

I’m pleased to report they both failed – thank goodness the “little guy” got himself good representation through the law firm of Cooper Mills (based in Melbourne).

Case 1 –  a 2 letter domain name.

These type of domains are rare and therefore extremely valuable. A law firm possessing the same initials made a $5000 offer to purchase the domain in December 2013. The offer was declined, with the registrant indicating that a domain of this quality would be worth at least 5 figures. That was their right.

So what did the law firm do?

Firstly they complained to auDA (.au Domain Administration), but their complaint was unsuccessful. So then they decided to file an auDRP (Australian Dispute Resolution Policy) complaint with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (World Intellectual Property Organisation).

This cost the law firm time and money; but unfortunately it also forced the “little guy” to pay to defend his rights to the domain.

There are three “limbs” to an auDRP complaint – and the Complainant has to succeed on all three in order to divest the Respondent of the disputed domain name.

The Complainant didn’t even get past first base! The three member panel found for the Respondent. Read the short decision here.

Case 2 –  a 3 letter domain name.

These are also valuable domains. A large travel group tried to acquire this domain via similar methods as the previous case. They claimed all sorts of things including trademark rights, but another 3 member panel found for the Respondent again.

The Complainant’s cause was not helped by omitting certain key information in their complaint:

The Complaint filed in the present proceeding was not complete and accurate and omitted the following relevant information:

a) That the Complainant’s administrative complaint to auDA about the Respondent had been dismissed.

b) That the Complainant attempted to purchase the Domain Name from the Respondent and was rebuffed.

This time the panel even made a Reverse Domain Name Hijacking finding. Read the decision here.

Conclusion

  • If you make a lowball offer on a house and get rebuffed, you can’t take proceedings to try and acquire it for nothing. Why should valuable domain names be any different?
  • What a shame that the respondent has no automatic recourse to recoup the money he had to outlay to defend his right to these domains.
  • I bet the asking price of the domains just went up!

What do you think?

 

3 thoughts on “Is this bullying?

  • April 29, 2015 at 10:11 am
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    I think it’s very unfortunate that there are not stronger disincentives in place to discourage this type of behaviour.

    At the moment, if someone decides they don’t like the price, they ‘take a punt’ and attempt to get the name through these channels.

    There is limited recourse available for this dubious behaviour and ultimately these frivolous proceedings ending up costing the respondents money, which for smaller players could have quite an impact.

  • April 29, 2015 at 3:05 pm
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    Classic case of greed and sense of entitlement. Good to see a law firm miss out.

  • May 19, 2015 at 12:27 am
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    Great article! I wouldn’t care how much money it cost to defend in these instances. On principle I wouldn’t give these slimy companies the pleasure of owning names they were not prepared to pay for. Pure bullying will not be tolerated! There is always a way for a buyer and seller to come to a fair price. Even if it takes months…

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