Provocative subject heading – but unfortunately it happens far too often these days.
When a person or entity doesn’t want to pay what could be deemed to be a fair and reasonable price for a gTLD (like a .com) domain name, they have the option of filing a UDRP – Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy.
Or if it’s an Aussie domain the process is called auDRP. The auDRP is an adaptation of the UDRP (with some of its own rules and interpretations).
It costs the complainant money to file, but is far cheaper than legal proceedings through a Court. Where the other costs come in are through legal representation. Most complainants engage a law firm to prosecute their case. The Respondent in the matter (the person who has the domain) generally has to get professional representation as well. The outcome is usually determined speedily, and a decision is made to either transfer the domain name to the complainant; or leave the status quo. There is no award of costs.
Don’t get me wrong – these type of proceedings do have their place. If someone is brazenly cybersquatting a domain name (a bad faith registration), then a UDRP / auDRP is totally warranted.
Where Does “Hijacking” Come In?
Under the UDRP / auDRP, there is an option to make a ruling of Reverse Domain Name Hijacking – RDNH. This is where the Panel finds that the Complaint was brought in bad faith and constitutes an abuse of the administrative proceeding. There is no monetary penalty – it’s more a case of “name and shame”.
In the past, a lot of Panelists have been reluctant to award a RDNH finding for a variety of reasons. However, as domain names become more and more valuable, there has been a big increase in UDRP complaints. Some businesses will resort to any means to try and acquire a domain name (except it seems pay a fair price to the holder of the domain!). Panelists now seem to be finding their voice and awarding more RDNH findings.
Aussie Firm Engaged In RDNH
In a case publicised overnight by Andrew Allemann of Domain Name Wire, New Forests Asset Management Pty Limited of North Sydney has been found to have engaged in Reverse Domain Name Hijacking over the domain name NewForests.com.
The Complainant was represented by Clayton Utz – that would have cost a pretty penny for no result! Ouch!
In the case at hand, the Panel considers that the Complainant is represented by a Counsel who knew or should have known, at the time of the filing of the Complaint, that it could not prove at least one of the essential elements required by the Policy, namely the Respondent’s bad faith registration, as the Respondent’s registration of the disputed domain name predates the creation and first use of the Complainant’s trademark.
What Happens Now?
I guess if New Forests wants the domain, then they’re going to have to pay a fair price for it. That’s what should have happened in the first place in my opinion.
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