This won’t help its reputation.
An online reputation management company has been found to have engaged in reverse domain name hijacking.
The owner of that domain, Web Presence LLC, NetReputation.com, used the domain for many years for a competing service. The company told the World Intellectual Property Organization panel that the term is commonly used in the industry.
The three-person panel found (pdf) that the registrant had rights or legitimate interests in the domain based on its use.
It also determined that the domain wasn’t registered or used in bad faith. The Respondent stated that it became aware of the Complainant when the Complainant outsourced some work to it in 2018 after it registered the domain name.
The panel went a step further, deciding that this was a case of reverse domain name hijacking. It believed the Complainant tried to mislead it about trademarks. First, the Complainant told the panel it had two pending federal trademark registrations. But it filed an Express Abandonment of one of them within hours of filing the complaint. Second, it claimed a Florida registration was pending, but the exhibit showed that it was rejected. Finally, it noted:
Complainant’s only contention with respect to Policy paragraph 4(a)(ii) is that Respondent was making no use of the Disputed Domain Name as of the filing of the complaint, even though it well knew (and had alleged) that Respondent had been using the Disputed Domain Name to provide services for several years.
Gibney, Anthony & Flaherty, LLP represented the Complainant, and Cylaw Solutions represented the domain name owner.
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