HDT.com: why no reverse domain name hijacking?

This seems like a Plan B reverse domain name hijacking case.

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 (WIPO) panelist has found in favor of the owner of hdt.com in a UDRP, but failed to consider if it was reverse domain name hijacking. It appears to be a classic “Plan B” reverse domain name hijacking case.

HDT Software Limited of Ireland filed the case against domain investor Bryan Graves. HDT was represented internally and John Berryhill represented the domain owner.

Here’s a summary of the case:

  • Respondent purchased the domain for $8,500 in a 2013 auction
  • Complainant inquired about buying the domain before launching his business. He offered $11,00 in July 2015, but the domain owner wanted more
  • Complainant then formed “HDT” company in August 2015
  • Respondent got a $120,000 purchase offer via Afternic in 2020 and sent an email to prior interested parties, including the Complainant. Respondent said it was too much for its budget but still thanked Respondent “for the heads-up!”
  • Complainant files for trademark, then files UDRP

Panelist Stephanie Hartung correctly found that the domain wasn’t registered and used in bad faith. Yet her decision fails to address whether this is a reverse domain name hijacking (RDNH) case. I’m told that both parties’ supplemental filings (which the panelist accepted) addressed RDNH.

It seems lately that I’ve been asking the question, “Why wasn’t this RDNH?” more often. WIPO doesn’t offer RDNH statistics on its website, but ICANN recently collated them for its UDRP status report and found that RDNH cases are increasing. While RDNH doesn’t come with a monetary penalty, it’s an important discussion point as the community reviews UDRP.

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