Let me count they ways…
A couple of months ago, Fieldd Pty Ltd filed a lawsuit against Jessica Duarte, the owner of fieldd.com. There are many things not to like about this dispute.
From the record, it appears that Duarte started a business with her wife around 2014 called Fieldd. She initially registered fieldd.com in her name but later added the registrant organization Fieldd Software LLC to Whois. The business didn’t work out, and it wound down. Duarte later removed the business name from the registrant organization field of the domain name Whois record.
Duarte’s company offered software for field services businesses.
In 2019, after Fieldd Software wound down, Fieldd Pty Ltd launched a business at fieldd.co that seems almost identical to what Fieldd Software did. (Both are currently based in the same city, too.) An archived screen capture of fieldd.com has the headline, “A scheduling app built for service pros”. The current website at fieldd.co uses the headline “Scheduling Software for Services”. Both pages purport to help service providers with payments, quoting, scheduling, etc.
I don’t know what to make of two companies with identical names operating in the same sector, just at different times. But what’s clear is that Fieldd Pty Ltd, which set up at fieldd.co while the .com was taken, coveted fieldd.com and tried to buy it. When it couldn’t get it for the price it wanted, it filed a UDRP and then a lawsuit.
Here’s why I think everything about this situation stinks.
1. The domain name stinks
I think these parties are fighting over a domain name that isn’t that good. Sure, on paper Fieldd.com looks alright. But when spoken aloud, this domain becomes either “field with two ds dot com” or “F – I – E – L – D – D dot com”. It’s just not that good and will lead to confusion.
I see this type of domain sell for five figures all of the time, but I wouldn’t use it for my business.
If I were Fieldd Pty Ltd, I would consider changing my name rather than spending the money to fight for fieldd.com.
2. The original UDRP stinks
To win a UDRP, the filing party needs to show that the domain owner registered the domain in bad faith.
Here, the person registered the domain before the Complainant existed, so she clearly wasn’t targeting the non-existent company with her registration.
So Fieldd Pty filed its UDRP arguing a technicality: the removal of the defunct business name from the Whois registration was a new registration/transfer.
UDRP panels usually look at the full circumstances when deciding if a change of registrant is considered a new registration. And the majority of the panel in this decision agreed (pdf) that this change should not be considered a transfer/new registration.
When Duarte filed a response to the case, Fieldd Pty tried to withdraw the case. It said that Duarte lied in her response yet the panel wouldn’t consider its supplemental filing that called out these alleged lies, so it wanted to bring the dispute to court instead. (Based on the majority of the panel’s ruling, it doesn’t seem that the alleged lies would have changed the decision.)
3. The UDRP dissent stinks
UDRP panelist Matthew Harris didn’t rule on the overall decision, but he filed a lengthy dissent. I’ll let Zak Muscovitch explain why the dissent stinks.
4. The domain owner’s heat-of-the-moment actions stink
In late 2022, Fieldd Pty’s CEO was still trying to buy the domain. After alleging to Duarte that this was a case of cybersquatting, Duarte filed paperwork to adopt “Fieldd Fence & Deck” as a d.b.a. to an existing entity called The Boardwalk Home Services Co., LLC. Shortly thereafter, she set up a barebones site on fieldd.com offering fence and deck construction.
I don’t know. Perhaps Duarte had planned to set up this d.b.a. all the time. Maybe she now felt that she was at an impasse with Fieldd Pty and decided to flip the switch on the new site.
But the timing makes it look like Duarte was trying to pull something off to avoid looking like she was cybersquatting.
I see this time and time again in this type of dispute. A domain owner gets threatened despite doing nothing wrong. Then, they quickly take action that makes it look like they were up to something sneaky all along.
5. Some of the lawsuit’s arguments stink
Fieldd Pty filed its original lawsuit on January 30 and then followed up with an amended lawsuit (pdf) on March 8. The amended suit adds a section about “actual consumer confusion arising from defendant’s conduct.”
This type of domain confusion between top level domains is typical. People type the wrong extension all of the time.
Pocketbook has provided evidence of confusion in that publications have accidentally linked to Pocketbook.com instead of Pocketbook’s website when writing about Pocketbook, but this is not evidence of confusion between the marks, only evidence of confusion about Pocketbook’s web address. Pocketbook has not presented any other evidence of actual confusion, likely because actual confusion would be implausible.
6. It stinks that both Fieldd Pty and Duarte are going to lose
Regardless of how this case works out, both parties are going to lose.
Fieldd Pty could have bought the domain for $9,500 in 2020. It declined. Duarte raised the price to $32,000 last year and Fieldd Pty again declined. Then it spent what is surely about the same (if not more) in legal expenses to file the UDRP and lawsuit. This is despite texting the domain owner, “If I had the money I’d pay you. But we don’t.”
Duarte is also going to lose with legal expenses.
Even if one party prevails and gets legal fees paid, the time, effort and stress of this ordeal will be immense.
Especially for such a marginal domain name.
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