Why outfront.co was not an NHDR case – Domain Name Wire
Rothnie made the right call in this dispute.
Outfront Media, a large outdoor advertising company in the United States, has lost (pdf) a UDRP filed against the owner of outfront.co. The case was judged fairly, and the panelist deserves props for looking into the issue of reverse domain name hijacking (RDNH).
When I started reading the case, it seemed ripe for an RDNH discovery. Complainant is a large company and he used Jones Day, a large law firm (ICANN paid him $9 million last year). He is therefore a wise complainant.
The Respondent is a UK registered finance company called Outfront.
It is therefore likely that the respondent has legitimate rights or interests in the field. So the case is basically dead at this point.
So why not RDNH? Two reasons.
First, the Complainant did not know the identity of the Respondent when he filed the case. I generally argue that a plaintiff should withdraw their file when they discover the identity of the owner if they explain their rights or interests in the field. It’s part of the process now with GDPR. But in this case, the domain was registered in the name of one of the company’s representatives, so the corporate link was unclear when the identity was revealed. A complainant can ask to withdraw a file after receiving the response, and perhaps Outfront Media should do so. But it’s a minor strike against her in this case.
Second, outfront.co leads to a parking page with advertisements related to the advertising company’s competitors.
This last issue is what triggered this UDRP. The domain owner is innocent – his registrar added the links – but it’s understandable why Outfront Media filed this complaint. Outfront Media uses outfront.com. If someone leaves the mthey will see ads for competitors.
The respondent did not seek reverse domain name hijacking, but World Intellectual Property Organization panelist Warwick Rothnie considered it:
Respondent has not reasonably sought to find reverse domain name hijacking under Section 15(e) of the Rules. Given the fact that there is nothing obvious associating the Respondent with its business and the use of the disputed domain name to resolve a parking page with PPC links to Complainant’s competing businesses, the Committee finds that this is not an appropriate case for such a finding.
I agree with Rothnie on this one. Just because a case fails doesn’t mean it’s an NHDR. And kudos to Rothnie for considering RDNH when it wasn’t requested.