Recent Case Notes & Commentary

REVERSE DOMAIN NAME HIJACKING: WHEN WILL RDNH BE FOUND?

Vantage Mobility International, LLC v. Michael Bilde / Embrand

FORUM, Case Number: FA1806001790831

July 29, 2018


The circumstances that will persuade a Panel to make a finding of Reverse Domain Name Hijacking (RDNH) are varied. In fact, they are as varied as the circumstances that might persuade a Panel not to make a finding of RDNH. It might sound like something of a cliché, but it is true nevertheless: every case depends on its own circumstances.


A recent case threw up some unusual circumstances that resulted in a 3 person panel deciding not to find RDNH. The complainant trademark owner was suspicious because a broker had come forward to offer to sell the domain name to the Complainant as it was the same as the Complainant’s trademark; the domain name was <vmi.com> and the trademark was VMI. This certainly made it look like bad faith. But it turned out on the evidence that the offer to sell that was made by the broker was in fact made several days before the Respondent bought the domain name. It looked as if the previous owner was trying to sell the domain name and having failed to do so, decided to offload it and that was when the Respondent came to acquire it. Thus, you could not blame the Respondent for an act for which it was not responsible. That was enough to discourage the panel from finding RDNH.


But there was one last point. When the Complainant found out that the Respondent was not responsible for the offer to sell, should it have abandoned the claim rather than press on with it, as it did? Was this a ground for finding RDNG? No, said the panel, it was not. The panel felt that the Complainant was “left with a concern that the prior registrant and the Respondent were collaborating somehow…” and the Complainant’s desire to press ahead with the case was therefore “not so unreasonable as to support a finding of reverse domain name hijacking.”


Notice that the Panel was looking closely at what were the real motives of the Complainant in bringing and persisting with the claim as that is the real determinant of whether a panel believes a finding of RDNH is justified or not.