Back in early-May 2019, Domainer reported on Jonathon Horne of Domain Protector and Terrific.com.au Pty Ltd “taking over” a Registrar Connection at Drop.com.au so he could win back a domain name he accidentally allowed to expire; Company.com.au(.)
Even though there were bids of up to $27,777 across all platforms to acquire the dropping domain, you can read all about how the auDA-endorsed Drop Bidding system was “manipulated” so Jonathon Horne managed to win the domain name back for himself for $6.50. Management at Drop.com.au stated at the time they were “blindsided”…
Fast forward a few weeks later, to late-May 2019…
Jonathon Horne’s Domain Protector company accidentally let yet another domain name be released to the public drop auctions.
That’s right… Just like Company.com.au(,) Smartmark.com.au was accidentally sent to the drops by “Domain Protector”.
Trouble was, this was not his domain name. It was a client’s.
[At this point you may be thinking… Domain Protector? Seriously?]
Long story short, when I saw the domain name appear on the drops, I assumed the previous registrant no longer wanted it. So, I registered the domain name for my company, Registry Australia, that provides Registration Services in relation to domain names, business names, company names and trademarks.
As a diligent CEO and Entrepreneur, I endeavour to register many domain names directly associated with my various businesses in the name of brand protection and possible future development opportunities.
A couple of days after I acquired it, a $200 offer was made on behalf of Jonathon Horne to try and acquire this domain back. The offer came from someone at Drop.com.au(.) This implied to me at that stage that Drop.com.au management was still in close contact with Jonathon Horne and Terrific.
In September 2019, it appears Stuart Gibson from the law firm Mills Oakley was engaged to try to acquire the Smartmark.com.au domain back.
Stuart Gibson offered $2000 to buy the domain name, via email.
My team and I had no intention of selling it, so, we decided to just ignore the threat of “We are about to file our client’s Complaint!“
In October 2019, Mills Oakley submitted an auDRP Complaint against my company, in an attempt to try to clawback the domain name.
I can only imagine how many thousands of dollars and how much time was spent in this process.
I must admit, this process was just as gruelling as when I successfully denied previous complaints from wanna-be domain thieves (https://domainer.com.au/wallabies-rugby-lose/) and (https://domainer.com.au/ogio-com-au-audrp-complaint-denied/) and (https://domainer.com.au/rottnestisland-com-au-complaint-denied/).
Defending auDRP complaints are NOT FUN. But it’s better than letting people try to steal your domain name, right?
Finally, 4 months after the auDRP process had begun, just this week (February 2020), the three auDRP Panelists, Andrew Christie, Alan Limbury and John Swinson, decided “the Complaint is denied“.
The majority of the panel also decided that the complaint was brought in bad faith and was an abuse of the administrative proceeding (Reverse Domain Name Hijacking!). The dissenting panelist to a RDNH finding was John Swinson (former Chair of auDA’s Policy Review Panel) – though he did comment that “the complaint was poorly drafted“.
You can read the full decision here.
In more detail, the panel stated;
the Complaint was both silent on key matters and riddled with unexplained inconsistencies in its pleading and evidence. Notable among these is the Complainant’s claim that it “owned the Domain for approximately five years” when the historical WhoIs records show that the Complainant’s authorised representative, Stuart Gibson, was the registrant of it in January 2105 and that another entity, Hudson IP Pty Ltd, was the registrant of it in July 2015 and in February 2019. This unsubstantiated and potentially false claim of ownership of the disputed domain name, together with the numerous other unexplained inconsistencies and potential falsities in the Complainant’s evidence identified above, lead the majority of the Panel (Mr. Christie and Mr. Limbury) to conclude that the Complainant did intentionally attempt to mislead the Panel by omitting relevant evidence.
Accordingly, the majority of the Panel finds and declares that the Complaint was brought in bad faith and constitutes an abuse of the administrative proceeding.
It gives me a lot of satisfaction when I (as an everyday Australian businessman) can prevail against the might and resources of a big legal firm. And when the decision states that the Complainant’s case (lead by Stuart Gibson of Mills Oakley) was “riddled with inconsistencies in its pleading and evidence“, this makes it even better.
Moral of the story?
Defend your domains!
If someone wants your domain name, THEY CAN PAY FOR IT! (if you’re willing to sell it).