GoDaddy wins reverse domain name hijacking charge against French law firm

GoDaddy wins reverse domain name hijacking charge against French law firm

Law firm went after domain in GoDaddy’s NameFind portfolio.

the words "reverse domain name hijacking" in pale yellow type on a black bacground, next to a graphic of a pirate face

A World Intellectual Property Organization has found a French law firm to have engaged in reverse domain name hijacking.

Lerins & BCW filed a cybersquatting dispute against GoDaddy’s NameFind for

According to the decision, the Complainant acquired the intellectual property of a defunct legal group named Lerins and plans to shorten its name to Lerins.

The law firm tried to acquire the domain but found that the asking price was $9,888. That’s about three times what GoDaddy’s own domain appraisal tool says the domain is worth. (It’s unclear to me if GoDaddy owned the domain at the time of the inquiry; it appears this domain might have been acquired in a portfolio shortly thereafter.)

The Complainant states that, upon expressing its interest for the disputed domain name, the Registrar replied that the disputed domain name could be acquired for a price of USD 9,888 and, considering the disputed domain name appraisal value and DNI score from AFTERNIC of December 2, 2020, confirmed the real value was USD 3,000, it is highly likely that the Respondent and the Registrar, which belong to the same group of companies, were attempting to make a profit out of the sale of the disputed domain name, in trying to sell it at more than three time its normal value.

GoDaddy said the domain was originally acquired because of its value as a French or Scottish family name.

The three-person panel agreed and found that the Complainant failed to show that the domain was registered and used in bad faith, and failed to show that GoDaddy lacked rights or legitimate interests in the domain. It also found that this was a case of reverse domain name hijacking:

The Panel concludes that the Complainant’s actions constitute Reverse Domain Name Hijacking for the following reasons:

i) the Complainant should have appreciated the weakness of its case and the fact that the term “Lerins” encompassed in the disputed domain name cannot be exclusively referable to the Complainant;

ii) the Complainant’s case is based on the argument that offering a disputed domain name for sale for an amount exceeding the related out-of-pocket costs, independently of any awareness of the Complainant and its trademark, is of itself evidence of bad faith. The Panel finds that the Complainant should have contemplated that it could not succeed with such an argument;

iii) the circumstances of the case clearly show that this is a speculative case brought by the Complainant after its failure to purchase the disputed domain name from the Respondent’s predecessor in title…

Lerins & BCW represented itself. Levine Samuel, LLP represented GoDaddy.


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