For people who own a website domain name that someone else might one day covet, Reverse Domain Name Hijacking (RDNH) is a growing concern. Greed and Vanity are amongst the Seven Deadly Sins for a reason.
In 2009, Bruce Cahan tried to take something from me. He did not use a gun. Instead, he hired Lynda M. Braun from the New York law firm, Weil, Gotshal & Manges. Together, they used an international legal administrative proceeding as their weapon of choice. With a little help from my friends at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, they failed.
Here is what the World Intellectual Property Organization decided in our case:
The Panel can imagine that Respondent’s mixture of sarcasm, disdain, and military metaphor might well have antagonized Complainant; indeed that might have been Respondent’s intent. (Respondent could as he claims have been provoked to intemperance by Complainant’s actions.)
The fact remains, however, that Respondent has been put to considerable expense, of his own time and paying outside counsel, to defend this proceeding – a proceeding that the Panel has found to be groundless on the face of the Complaint. Disappointment at Respondent’s refusal to transfer the disputed domain name or fear or anger generated by Respondent’s fighting words cannot elide these consequences. Complainant’s counsel and Complainant’s principal (a lawyer himself) should have expected or at least not been surprised by some hyperbole from Respondent, another lawyer, in an exchange in a contentious matter. Lawyers are expected to divorce emotion from their professional judgment. The certification required by paragraph 3(b)(xiv) of the Rules demands no less.
Whatever offense Complainant or its counsel may have taken from Respondent’s fighting words simply does not excuse the filing of the Complaint on the facts as set out in the Complaint. The Panel finds that this was a proceeding “brought primarily to harass the domain name holder” (Rules, paragraph 15(e)) in an attempt at reverse domain name highjacking.
For the record, the Respondent in this matter is Peter Holland (me), the Complainant is Bruce Cahan, and Lynda Braun from Weil, Gotshal & Manges is “Complainant’s counsel.”
TL;DR — Lawyers are not supposed to try to use the law to steal things from other people. In this case, they either knew or should have known better. They tried to do it anyway. They failed.
Here is a copy of the decision: WIPO Domain Name Decision: D2009-0862.