Automattic defends .blog premium model

The registry itself was named in a cybersquatting case.

Graphic with the words "premium domains"

Automattic, which operates the .blog top level domain through its company Knock Knock Whois There (KKWT), has successfully defended a .blog domain in an interesting cybersquatting case.

Insurance giant AXA filed the UDRP dispute against the domain name axa.blog. KKWT had identified this domain as a premium domain name, similar to how most new top level domain registries segment domain names.

But there was a catch. KKWT went a step further and registered this domain in its name to offer for resale. It registered thousands of names and pointed them to for-sale landers to sell them through Afternic and Sedo.

This created a unique situation. KKWT argued that it’s common for registries to reserve domains as premiums and that a UDRP finding against the company

“would mean that all TLD registries are operating in bad faith because a potential domain name includes the name of one of the more than 17 million trademarks in the world” and that if the Complainant prevailed in this case “all registries could be forced to give away almost any domain names for free, despite registries spending substantial resources to manage the domain names”.

Panelist Matthew Harris called the company out for these claims, noting the critical difference here: KKWT wasn’t just acting as the registry; it was also acting as the registrant by registering the domain.

These claims are hyperbole that lacks even the remotest legal basis. Once again, they mistakenly confuse the ordinary acts of a registry in the operation of that registry for the benefit of third party registrants, with that act of becoming, whether directly or indirectly, the actual registrant of certain domain names. The domain name system would not fall apart, nor would the business model of the Internet need to change, if this case were decided in favour of the Complainant. Such a decision would merely confirm that where a registry decides to become either directly or indirectly the registrant of a domain name in its own registry, it is subject to the same rules in relation to that registration as is every other registrant.

However, Harris ultimately decided in KKWT’s favor. He found that AXA didn’t show that KKWT was targeting AXA with its registration. KKWT argued that it registered the domain because of its value as a short domain.

Post link: Automattic defends .blog premium model

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