It’s an all too common occurrence these days, a company wants a domain name, but rather than buying it for what it’s worth, they instead try to steal it by abusing UDRP. For those who don’t know what UDRP is for, it’s pretty simple – it is designed to get domains back from cybersquatters. Here’s the thing, just because someone owns a domain and isn’t using it, doesn’t mean they’re a cybersquatter.
Domain names are often considered to be the raw land of the Internet and many people around the world (myself included) invest in domain names just like you would buy vacant land. Also, it’s important to note that it’s not just individuals who invest in domain names, huge companies like Loreal, Facebook, Google, etc. own plenty of domains that they don’t actively use.
For some reason, the “cybersquatter” term gets thrown at people who simple bought a domain name as an investment. They aren’t infringing on a Trademark and they didn’t buy the domain name to interfere with anyone’s business. Now cybersquatters are scum in my opinion, they make the whole domain industry look bad, but luckily only a small fraction of domain owners take part in this illegal practice. UDRP is there to protect trademark owners from cybersquatters, but too many people, like Medical Marijuana Inc. in this particular case, abuse the process to try to get out of paying for a domain name they want to buy from someone else who owns it fair and square.
Medical Marijuana Inc from California had attempted to claim ownership of the domain, claiming it incorporates the essential aspects of its trademarks for CBD and HempMeds.
It alleged that the registrant of the disputed domain, Michael Wigton, who does business as Bionic Sports Nutrition, was engaged in “systematic cybersquatting”.
Wigton argued that the medical marijuana company was attempting to reverse domain name hijack the domain, as it brought this claim in bad faith and squats on trademarks related to both CBD and hemp medicinal products.
Panellists Andrew Bridges, Lawrence Nodine, Paul DeCicco denied Medical Marijuana Inc’s complaint as it did not prove that Wigton used the domain in bad faith, despite the three finding that the domain was “confusingly similar”. (Source – IPProMagazine)
What most companies don’t realize is that when they try to bully someone into giving them a domain name, and they lose a UDRP, they can end up getting hit with Reverse Domain Name Hijacking and that’s exactly what I think is going to happen here. The reality is, people pay big bucks for domain names all the time, and it’s worth it, domains are incredibly powerful online branding tools. Just yesterday I wrote a story about the company that bought User.com for $150,000 – they are thrilled to have the domain, and no, they didn’t try to steal the domain from the owner, they paid for it like most people do.
The reality is, most people that own domain names are not cybersquatters, and most people who want a domain name are not hijackers. At the same time, yes there are real cybersquatters out there, just like there are real domain name hijackers out there. Make sure you’re not one or the other because both should be ashamed of themselves.