Recent Case Notes & Commentary

REVERSE DOMAIN NAME HIJACKING – REPRIMAND OR EMPTY GESTURE?

Infocert S.p.a. v. Information Brokers, Inc. WIPO Case No. D2019-1405 August 19, 2019


In its essence, reverse domain name hijacking (RDNH) is an abuse of the UDRP administrative process. It is when a complainant brings a claim under the UDRP in bad faith, effectively with an intention to harass the registrant of a domain name and claim it for themselves.

In the case of Infocert S.p.s. v Information Brokers, Inc, the Respondent sought a declaration of RDNH on the basis that Infocert’s claim was brought opportunistically and that there was no suggestion of bad faith connected to its, the Respondent’s, use of the disputed domain name. Granting panels the power to make a determination of RDNH is intended to protect innocent registrants and prevent complainant’s from bringing abusive claims to an arbitration forum. But bringing a vexatious, frivolous or otherwise unsubstantiated claim can amount to an abuse of the UDRP process, especially if the Complainant knows – or should know- that it has no real chance of succeeding.


Section 4.16 of the WIPO Overview cites ‘registration of the disputed domain name well before the complainant acquired trademark rights’ as one of several indications of RDNH, which did in fact occur in this case. Further, there was evidence that the Complainant had previously attempted to buy the disputed domain name but was unable to. There was a clear enough indication that Infocert was using the arbitral process as leverage in their bargaining rather to uphold any rights they thought they had. In other words, it was a Plan B case, as they are called.


The panel found that this was an attempt at RDNH, which is certainly a ground for dismissing the claim, although, as has often been said, under the UDRP there is little else that can be done to sanction the abusive party, except marking the Panel’s disapproval.