Is This Reverse Hijacking, or Can Reader Win a UDRP For a 3 Letter .Com Domain Name? | DomainInvesting.com
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Is This Reverse Hijacking, or Can Reader Win a UDRP For a 3 Letter .Com Domain Name?

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I received a comment in yesterday’s post that isn’t really related to the article. I also thought it was deserving of its own post, since there will probably be no shortage of opinions about the topic. Reader LindaM submitted the following question:

“One of my more successful websites, what I would call a ‘real world’ website (ie it sells actual stuff that is posted to customers and is an outgrowth of a long established bricks n mortar) is currently growing nicely. Lets call it “ThreeLetterAbbreviation.com” .

Now then, this website is making some waves in its field and Im currently working to develop it further, it now has an employee and an investor. I was wondering – can I make a move on the 3letter, lets call it “TLA.com” ? Obviously the asking price will be unaffordable but since my company has been trading under the name for years could I fairly win a UDRP? Currently the name resolves to a search portal and ads (not ours), its whois returns a web media firm in USA that own other plum domains, some parked and some developed. Im sure they would fight tooth and claw to retain the “TLA.com” domain name.

Getting the name would give us a shot at world domination, losing a lawsuit could kill us dead.”

In my opinion, even without knowing the domain names in question, this would appear to be a clear cut case of reverse domain hijacking. Just because there’s a better domain name out there that isn’t being used to it’s fullest extent (which of course is subject to one’s opinion), it doesn’t mean that another company has the right to get it via UDRP. In fact, I think that would be a misuse of the UDRP process.

The UDRP was established primarily to protect companies when their brands and/or marks were being used by others who did not have the right to use them. Based on what LindaM wrote, this does not appear to be the case. It’s an attempt to get a domain name at a lower expense than buying it, which I believe is reverse domain name hijacking.

If a company is poised for “a shot at world domination” with this 3 letter com domain name, LindaM should pay whatever it would take to get it, since that cost would almost certainly be lower than the profits that come with world domination.

What do you think?


About The Author: Elliot Silver is an Internet entrepreneur and publisher of DomainInvesting.com. Elliot is also the founder and President of Top Notch Domains, LLC, a company that has sold seven figures worth of domain names in the last five years. Please read the DomainInvesting.com Terms of Use page for additional information about the publisher, website comment policy, disclosures, and conflicts of interest.


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Comments (35)

    Louise

    @ LindaM. just buy it in another extension!

    October 10th, 2010 at 3:34 pm

    Gnanes

    Linda: Register a .co version

    October 10th, 2010 at 3:44 pm

    LindaM

    Hi there, thankyou for your response Elliot, I was 99% sure you were going to say that! – please note, my original question clearly reads ‘Could I fairly win a UDRP’, this is important. I have no wish to hijack anything or subvert the UDRP, if that is even possible.
    No – this is a case of an existing trademark having a legitimate interest in both protecting brand as well as a domain acquisition. I appreciate any and all opinions :)

    Oh and to the .co //cctld./.fail./whatever purchasers out there, unless you actually doing business in that local market you will find them becoming an increasingly burdensome corner of your portfolio. With some notable exceptions, I stay away from them – and would definitely not consider starting a business aimed globally unless I had a good .com to fly under. Peace.

    October 10th, 2010 at 3:59 pm

    LindaM

    As for off-topic, a certain well known company does very well out of spending 20% of its time ‘off-topic’ doing other stuff. One of the problems of running your own ship Ive found is that even slow weekends revolve around whatever coalface your hacking away at lately. Of course, this is *easily* made up for not having a boss. ever.
    I figure since your having a slow weekend too Id share my subversive ponderings on world domination 😉

    October 10th, 2010 at 4:26 pm

    Elliot

    @ LindaM

    I don’t mind off-topic posts (usually), and this one was deserving of its own space…. Much of the reason is because there are people who could give better responses than I, and it would be more visible in its own post. Perhaps some legal eagles will chime in here with feedback.

    October 10th, 2010 at 4:28 pm

    Borat

    Dear beautiful Linda. I have been the world domination person of glorious country kazakhstan. We have a domain in my country like TNA. I know as I am reporter to American and americans like the T AND A very much. Only 1 can be world dominator of T and the A is that Pamela Anderson

    October 10th, 2010 at 4:34 pm

    LindaM

    It evidently remains the fact that some people have slower weekends than others, small mercys.

    October 10th, 2010 at 4:41 pm

    Priv

    “Could I fairly win a UDRP’, this is important. I have no wish to hijack anything or subvert the UDRP, if that is even possible.a”

    ——
    Sorry Linda but you fail the ethics test. You cannot steal fairly, spin it however you want.

    October 10th, 2010 at 5:20 pm

    Josh

    @Linda, if you are truly a pretty girl maybe someone will buy the name for you. Send a pic to hijackindomainhoneypot@gmail.com.

    October 10th, 2010 at 7:59 pm

    John Doe

    Elliot,

    Did LindM know in advance she was going to be in the spotlight with her own post on your blog dedicated to her question and was she okay with that?

    If no to above, that scares me to post freely on blog anymore, because we will be subject to this kind of direct attention.

    LindM,

    It is reverse domain hijacking, but one can argue cyber squatting is worst. I do not think you will have a chance, however, if you pursue $1500 filing fee to challenge it, then I hope you have been using those abbreviations in the past, the domain name in question is parked using competing and/or your own ad words, and you can prove they registered the domain name in bad faith.

    My two cents.

    October 10th, 2010 at 9:32 pm

    Elliot

    @ John Doe

    I encourage you not to post anymore if you are worried that there will be direct attention. The purpose of posting a comment publicly is for direct attention I would imagine. Anyway, to answer your question directly:

    1) Yes, I emailed LindaM before posting and was told it’s okay.

    2) LindaM posted the comment publicly asking for feedback, so why would there be any issues in the first place?

    3) LindaM commented in this post and didn’t mention any issues, so why do you think there might be?

    4) I searched for your IP in the comment history, and it doesn’t appear that you’ve posted anything before. Why would you choose this one article for your first comment?

    October 10th, 2010 at 9:36 pm

    AB

    Dirtbag move, plain and simple

    October 10th, 2010 at 9:45 pm

    LindaM

    @JohnDoe Yes Elliot asked if it was ok to expand on my post, which it is, I am canvassing opinion on the matter.
    In response to your checklist there, I can answer yes to all but the bad faith thing. It was registered in 1998 and almost certainly without knowledge of our TM, which was unregistered at the time but provably in use nonetheless.

    I am aware that I would be unlikely to win a UDRP but its not beyond the realms of possibility (far crazier judgements have been handed down without doubt). Registering in bad faith isnt actually a requirement it just makes it a slam dunk if provable. And besides, registering in bad faith and ongoing or current/future bad faith usage is also different from whatever was the situation in 1998.

    @Priv Sorry not sure ethics comes into it, this is business honey. UDRP is there to protect trademark holders as well as domain owners, it works both ways.

    October 10th, 2010 at 9:47 pm

    Priv

    “Sorry not sure ethics comes into it, this is business honey. UDRP is there to protect trademark holders as well as domain owners, it works both ways.”

    Fine, thief, then I hope you go bankrupt ‘honey.” Stealing is almost always about business, instead of working hard it’s easier to steal. What trademark when you even admit you had none in 98?

    Face it, you are thief, not much different from entering a home and stealing a wallet (just more cowardly)

    October 10th, 2010 at 11:35 pm

    LindaM

    Thankyou for your well balanced and skillfully articulated opinion. My response would be :
    1) I am not, and never have been (and hopefully neverwill be) a thief.
    2) “What trademark when you even admit you had none in 98″ – I admit no such thing, quite the contrary. It is possible to acquire legal trademark by common usage, in most western jurisdictions including USA, as well as by means of registration (this is obviously very advisable). In 1998 we had an unregistered but commonly and uniquely used mark.
    3) “I hope you go bankrupt” – In the *highly* unlikely event of that happening the people who would suffer the most would be my subcontractors and creditors (and their children and pet dog)most of whom I enjoy excellent relationships with – so I truly hope that doesnt happen. :)

    October 10th, 2010 at 11:49 pm

    Borat

    Miss Linda honeypots very nice

    October 11th, 2010 at 12:47 am

    Makis

    This is what reverse hijacking is all about.

    October 11th, 2010 at 7:01 am

    chris

    wonder why people think like this?

    my thoughts are…..
    If they had the idea for the domain name first and its not purchased in ‘bad faith’ then they should have the right to keep that domain.

    they had the idea first so deal with it and dont expect them to give you anything

    @LindaM why waste your time because you will never win

    i would even donate to the owner of the domain to help them fight you in court and then seek damages as your logic isnt exactly ethical nor a good business strategy and to be honest laughable.

    You will end up loosing more than you think and the time wasted could be put to better use.

    If I were those guys I would now charge you double the original price and seeing that you only have a v.small staff and only 1 investor i think i would be more worried about the size of their legal team, advisors and budget.

    I would come after you with all legal means available and and send you to bankruptcy quicker than a new york minute.

    cant believe that you think it will work LOL’s

    October 11th, 2010 at 8:44 am

    Priv

    Linda seems like the typical thieving scum that has no ethics nor mercy. People like that usually hang around the same crowd and soon or latter a bigger fish will eat her alive. Now she has $5 in her pocket so she feels invincible and entitled, like most life-long losers.

    Scum like this need to be exposed on a sucks site, full name, address and the whole nine yards. Let the world know what type of person they are, and then let them justify their actions to the world, clients and business partners. You will notice a huge drop in hijacking attempts.

    October 11th, 2010 at 9:11 am

    ROOFIS

    @Linda
    This may or maybe not off topic but are there any other global companies out there that share the same initials/acronyms? and would they too step into the UDRP arena for the domain just to see if they could test the waters in such a case? It would be interesting to see how icann would deal with such a scenario!

    October 11th, 2010 at 10:47 am

    Mike - DomainAnimal

    well said Elliot

    October 11th, 2010 at 11:01 am

    lee

    Look guys, LindaM asked an open question in an open forum.

    She seems to be well acquainted with UDRP processes and appears to be aware of the limitations of her case. As she herself says, she wonders if she can “fairly” win a UDRP claim.

    It would appear therefore that the registration was not in bad faith. LindaM freely admits that the domain “was registered in 1998 and almost certainly without knowledge of our TM, which was unregistered at the time but provably in use nonetheless.”

    If, more recently, the owners try to trade upon her keywords to encroach in some way upon her business then that’s not, IN MY OPINION, a good enough reason to win a UDRP claim. It’s just a sign of her growing success in her business and should be viewed as a form of compliment.

    Linda, I would try and reach a deal with the domain owner based upon traffic data research / lead generation and whatever. Perhaps with an option to purchase the domain at some future date (when she can afford it).

    Start to use the acronym domain without the capital outlay.

    October 11th, 2010 at 11:37 am

    Louise

    @ LindaM, I appeciate you sharing, and sorry of the free-for-all some took to vent their frustrations over unrelated issues! Unhappy people lash out! You keep up your good work . . . and I stick to my suggestion you buy a .net or .org of your acronym, and promote that instead, as those extensions are favored in Google ranking!

    October 11th, 2010 at 12:15 pm

    Elliot

    “as those extensions are favored in Google ranking!”

    Favored over what?

    October 11th, 2010 at 12:16 pm

    LindaM

    @ Chris “I cant believe that you think it will work LOL’s” – erm I dont believe it would work, which is why it remains a pondering rather than already done. I posed this question out of interest purely, rather that an illustration of any plans I might have.
    “I would donate money …” wow find a more worthy cause, fighting me is a waste of your clearly valuable time.

    @ Priv Um I asked a question, thats all, scum and thief are not words that fit me very well, but I appreciate your learned and eloquent contribution nonetheless.

    @ ROOFIS – Yes that would certainly be interesting, in this hypothetical situation. Keep asking questions !

    @ Lee Thanks for your reply, good idea re speaking with the domain owner re lead generation

    @ Louise – Thankyou for your reply – yeah I can only assume they have issues elsewhere in life. Re your other extension idea, I have secured some ccTLD for future expansion in those markets. As for the .net .org etc, while I wouldnt say they arent worth holding for brand protection I dont think they hold any SEO value.
    From my experience a .com enjoys a slight edge (if any) on other domains, given the same amount of SEO work. The others seem to be about the same in terms of ‘weighting’, with the exception of a ccTLD in its local market.

    October 11th, 2010 at 1:22 pm

    Sri

    In the US version of Google, all gTLDs have equal weightage IMO. I have a couple org and a net that rank on first page and com is nowhere near for the same term. So, org & net DO have SEO value.

    I even have an info and a biz that rank on first page for x term while com/org/net are not even in top 20 for that x term.

    So, for you, any of net/org/info/biz could work equally well and like you say it is an extension of a brick & mortar business, then even the .US is an option.

    If I was in your place, I would go for the 5 TLDs – net/org/info/biz/us (10 years costing less than $500), put the site on one of them (depending upon the niche) and do a 301 from the other 4.

    But, the crux of the matter is, are these other TLDs available? If the term is a LLL abbreviation, I doubt if it is available in other extensions!

    So, what do you do? There are some more options available that won’t burn a hole in your pocket, but are beyond the scope of this comment. You can discuss with me privately through contact page on my site linked in this comment.

    October 11th, 2010 at 3:01 pm

    Sri

    PS:

    I say “beyond the scope of this comment” because, I would need to know your niche and something more about your business to suggest more options.

    October 11th, 2010 at 3:06 pm

    chris

    @linda, having your question posted in the way it has will always create bitter debate and reaction.

    hypothetical or not this stuff happens everyday and when you hear the idea of it publicly happening it will invoke emotions.

    the ccTLD is the best way to go (less time and money) and with clever marketing you can do very well and make it more visible than the .com.

    I wanted ***.com but at 50k+ its out of my budget for the intended use so i got every ccTLD much cheaper.
    (still salivate for the .com but they got it first and i have to live with that or submit and pay the price)

    please just explore every other option first.
    But very interesting scenario none the lass

    October 11th, 2010 at 5:58 pm

    Louise

    Google is pretty smart! It won’t favor parked pages, for which .com is nortorious, over true content from a hand-registered, lesser extension.

    It happened the opportunity arose to test this with TWO of my 3-for-1’s so that the .org displaced the other two extensions, then the .net rose and pushed down the .com. Both .org and .net had to be pointed to a 404 before the .com would rise. The conclusion is: if the .com, .net and .org offer the same content, the Google favors the extensions in this order:

    .org
    .net
    .com

    October 11th, 2010 at 6:13 pm

    Chris Nielsen

    Man, give LindaM a break already. She clearly got the message for Elliot’s first response. Such harshness is unprofessional when it’s a question someone asked, and not an action they have taken.

    Now LindaM, what I wanted to say to you is that while a nice 3-letter domain “may” help in some ways, if your business depends a domain like that then you have bigger problems. To begin with, many people don’t go around typing in urls all that much. They have bookmarks and links everywhere to click on. Even I type in short names like IBM into Google so I can click on the link. Stupid I know, but I do it. Now with Google Instant I type in less and less… :-)

    If your existing business domain name is ungainly, then you have other options for a newer, shorter, and more memorable domains that relates to your business or that has some strong image connected with it. Good marking and branding campaigns can establish the right name and provide the domination effect that you are looking for.

    Contact me if you would like some suggestions. We draw from a small pool of domains we own and a large pool of domains that are unregistered. If you choose a name that is not currently registered your cost is only the normal registration fee.

    The other option is to grit your teeth and find a person to ack as a broker to approach the seller and see if you can buy the domain. Don’t use someone who identifies themself as a broker, it will drive up the price. Which is going to be considerable no matter what, but if you really feel it will give your company a boost (talk to your broker and some other people to make sure) then is it not worth investing in your company for the benefit it will bring? You may be able to set up a payment plan with the seller, or even “rent” the domain so you can really confirm you will be getting the benefits you are forseeing.

    October 12th, 2010 at 12:01 am

    Bret Moore

    Leaving aside the ethical consideration for a moment, I didn’t see any information in her question post regarding trademark ownership, etc. So whether it might “fairly” succeed or not (given the right attorney working on the matter, it could possibly be written up in a persuasive manner), without more facts to back up an actual trademark at issue – and it sounds like we’re talking about a common law mark here – it looks like this would not succeed. My two cents.

    But I agree with everyone else who suggests this probably does not pass the smell test. Although I have seen a lot of UDRP panel decisions lately where I thought a finding of RDNH was completely warranted and the panel said no. ?!

    October 12th, 2010 at 5:53 am

    Brett Lewis

    There is nothing wrong with asking the question: “Could I fairly win a UDRP?” LindaM has a business. It’s a fair business question to ask. It sounds like LindaM does not plan to file a UDRP complaint, having received a response to her question. She does not want to win UNFAIRLY, which she might be able to do if she drew the right panelist. That sounds like a laudable decision.

    October 12th, 2010 at 10:56 am
    October 13th, 2010 at 8:27 am

    LindaM

    I read that case with interest. Im suprised to see most commentators disagreeing with the panel’s decision tbh. While I am not that experienced in these matters it seems to be that as the regulations stand, that decision is wholly correct. The key is the bad faith clause – this is very wide, and simply purchasing a domain that happens to be an unregistered tagline of a known competitor is, imo, potentially a bad faith act.
    Some commentators seem to be fixated on trademark registration – this while obviously highly advisable is far from a necessary element to holding a trademark.
    * A trademark acquired through common and provable use built over a course of time is just as valid, strong and legally enforceable, once accepted by a court/udrp/wipo panel, as a registered one.*

    For example – IF McDonalds plc had somehow overlooked to register ‘Im Loving it’ and some bright spark registered IMLOVINGIT.com it would be an open and shut case, as the recent ergonomicdesigns incident would appear to show. The fact that the respondents also were in the same trade as the complainant only served to bolster the bad faith case.

    I have to ask myself how much bias is involved from pure domainers when they appraise these situations – obviously it is in their interests to have a strict finders-keepers system on domains. That is the law of the jungle, and it heartens me greatly that it does not always prevail.
    Flame on.

    October 13th, 2010 at 3:08 pm

    John Doe

    Elliot,

    I apologize in advance for the delayed follow up.

    1. I figured you would, because you seem like a gentleman based on your past posts.

    2. Granted it is almost same thing, it is still not exactly the same. Post vs Comment ultimately are two different items.

    3. Just because she did not comment publicly, I am not going to assume she did not communicate privately to you. I was just looking for a little more transparency on your part and you delivered.

    4. I have before and I use various IP services.

    Keep up the good work and I appreciate your initial follow up.

    Thank you.

    November 22nd, 2010 at 3:05 pm

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