A decision was published recently by the World Intellectual Property Organization (“WIPO”) finding Group One Holdings Pte Ltd, the company that owns and operates One Championship, guilty of “Reverse Domain Name Hijacking”.
In the recent case (Group One Holdings Pte Ltd . Steven Hafto) the respondent registerd the domain name onechampionship.com in October, 2006, many years before ONE Championsnip existed as an MMA promotion.
In 2016 ONE contacted the respondent and entered into negotiations to buy the domain name. The negotiations did not succeed with ONE then issuing a formal complaint to WIPO. The complaint was swiftly dismissed with WIPO finding this was a classic case of reverse domain name hijacking. In dismissing the complaint WIPO provided the following reasons:
The Respondent argues that the Complainant brought this case for commercial purposes without any legal right to the disputed domain name after failing in the marketplace to acquire the disputed domain name.
Paragraph 15(e) of the Rules provides that, if “after considering the submissions the panel finds that the complaint was brought in bad faith, for example in an attempt at Reverse Domain Name Hijacking or was brought primarily to harass the domain-name holder, the panel shall declare in its decision that the complaint was brought in bad faith and constitutes an abuse of the administrative proceeding”. RDNH is defined under the Rules as “using the Policy in bad faith to attempt to deprive a registered domain-name holder of a domain name”.
The Panel considers that the Complainant has been guilty of RDNH for the following reasons:
i. The Complainant has failed by a large margin. In the Panel’s opinion, the Complainant knew or at least should have known that it could not prove one of the essential UDRP elements. The Complainant’s representatives quoted extensively from UDRP case law and the Panel thinks it unlikely that they were unaware of the current overwhelming view of UDRP panelists as to the need to prove registration as well as use in bad faith.
ii. In the Panel’s view, this is a classic “Plan B” case, where the Complainant initially attempted to acquire the disputed domain name making no mention of the UDRP or any other legal rights. Then, having been frustrated in its negotiations to buy the disputed domain name, it resorted to the ultimate option of a highly contrived and artificial claim not supported by any facts or the plain wording of the UDRP. This stratagem has been described in many UDRP cases as “a highly improper purpose” and it has contributed to findings of RDNH. See, e.g., Patricks Universal Export Pty Ltd. v. David Greenblatt, WIPO Case No. D2016-0653 and BERNINA International AG v. Domain Administrator, Name Administration Inc. (BVI), WIPO Case No. D2016-1811.
For the foregoing reasons, the Complaint is denied and the Panel finds that the Complainant has been guilty of Reverse Domain Name Hijacking.
h/t to Twitter’s @GlobeSvcs for link to decision