Category Archives: Domain Name Disputes

England and Wales’ High Court Rules A Domain Name Is “Intangible Personal Property”

In a case decided this month, the England and Wales High Court ruled a domain name may be “intangible personal property” for the first time. The case involved Perlake, a Uruguayan company now in liquidation, the domain name blackjack.com and a failure to pay commission derived from the business using the domain name. There were also issues about the legitimacy of a loan agreement and business dealings with those involved.

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Vile Leave.EU Leaves The EU As Domain Suspended

The “vile” and “odious” Leave.EU appears to have had their domain name suspended, temporarily at least, following the pro-Brexit campaign group having transferred registration of their domain name to an Irish businessperson who denies any involvement in Leave.EU.

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COVID-19 Pandemic Sees Increase In Domain Disputes As WIPO Passes 50,000th Case After 20 Years

It’s taken 20 years, and an 11 percent increase in cases filed in 2020, for the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center to registered its 50,000th “cybersquatting” case, covering almost 91,000 domain names, and involving parties from over 180 countries, the organisation announced this week.

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U.S. Justice Dept Seizes 27 Additional Domain Names Used by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps

The United States Justice Department announced Thursday they have seized 27 domain names they allege were unlawfully used by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) to further a global covert influence campaign.

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U.S. Seizes Domain Names Used by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps

[news release] The United States has seized 92 domain names that were unlawfully used by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) to engage in a global disinformation campaign, announced the Department of Justice.

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Facebook Files Lawsuit Against India-based Proxy Service Over Deceptive Domains

Facebook has filed a lawsuit against the India-based proxy service Compsys Domain Solutions Private Ltd. over the registration of domain names that were designed to deceive people by impersonating the social media giant’s family of apps, like: facebook-verify-inc.com, instagramhjack.com and videocall-whatsapp.com.

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Bizarre Plot Sees Man Jailed For Plotting Domain Name Theft At Gunpoint

An American man has been sentenced to 14 years in jail after being convicted of having his cousin try to hijack a domain name from another man at gunpoint, reports Associated Press. Rossi Lorathio Adams II from Cedar rapids, Iowa, aged 27, was sentenced to the federal prison term following his conviction in April of one count of conspiracy to interfere with commerce by force, threats and violence. Adams also must pay restitution and court fees.

According to the report, Adams founded social media company State Snaps, whose followers often used the slogan “Do It For State!” Adams repeatedly tried to buy the domain doitforstate.com from another Cedar Rapids man, but the owner refused to sell.

“In 2017, Adams convinced his cousin, Sherman Hopkins Jr., to break into the domain owner’s house, where he tried to force him at gunpoint to transfer the domain to Adams. During a struggle, Hopkins and the domain owner were shot but both survived. Hopkins was sentenced last year to 20 years in prison for the crime.”

In another report from Forbes, it says “for the better part of three years, Adams’ State Snaps account, founded while he was at Iowa State University, documented all sorts of college debauchery. Adams racked up more than 1.5 million followers along the way. … Operating on Instagram and Twitter, but doing the largest portion of its posting on Snapchat, State Snaps allowed students to submit clips and photos of their most outrageous behaviour.”

But Adams coveted the domain name doitforstate.com which he didn’t have. He attempted to purchase it from the registrant multiple times between 2015 and 2017 according to the Department of Justice, but the domain owner had no interest in selling. So Adams tried to steal it, recruiting his cousin, already a felon and living in a homeless shelter at the time, Adams wanted his cousin to break into the registrant’s home and threaten him at gunpoint to give up the website, according to Forbes.

“On June 21, 2017, Adams drove his cousin to the owner’s house, gave him a demand note with instructions on how to transfer ownership of the domain to Adams’ GoDaddy account. Adams’ cousin entered the domain holder’s home with a cellphone, stolen gun and taser in hand while wearing a hat, pantyhose over his head and dark sunglasses to cover his eyes. The domain holder, upstairs in his home, spotted the intruder at the bottom of the steps and tried to lock himself in his room. Adams’ cousin kicked open the door, grabbed the domain holder by the arm and demanded access to his computer. He placed the gun to the man’s head and told him to follow the directions in the note provided by Adams. The intruder hit the domain holder in the head multiple times with the pistol, which resulted in the domain holder entering into a struggle to gain control of the gun. He was shot in the leg during the struggle, but took possession of the firearm and shot Adams’ cousin in the chest multiple times before calling the police.”

Adams “will also have to pay nearly $9,000 in restitution, including $1,477.60 to the victim and domain holder. Most remnants of the State Snaps accounts have disappeared from the internet and have been suspended by Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter for violating terms of service. Adams’ sentencing seems to close the chapter on the brief run of the Do It For State movement.”

WIPO Conference To Look Back At 20 Years Of UDRP

The WIPO-designed Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP) turns 20 this year and to commemorate they’re holding a conference at their Geneva headquarters on 21 October.

The conference, As the UDRP Turns 20: Looking Back, Looking Ahead, will take stock and look ahead in terms of UDRP jurisprudence, ADR system design, relevant Internet developments, and a range of other topical subjects.

In the 20 years it’s existed, WIPO’s UDRP has adjudicated over 45,000 cases and this milestone will be commemorated. WIPO will not hold its traditional two-day Advanced Domain Name Workshop this year.

The conference is aimed at the more than 100 attending UDRP Panellists as well as brand owners, trademark practitioners, party counsel, registrars, ccTLD administrators, academics, and other domain name and Internet stakeholders.

Participants can register online. The fee for the event is CHF 250 and space is limited; refunds for cancellations will be permitted up to 7 October. There is also a conference page here.

WIPO Now Providing Dispute Resolution Services for .CN and .中国

WIPO have announced that as of 1 August they began providing domain name dispute resolution services for .CN and .中国 (China).

In their announcement, the World Intellectual Property Organization note the services are pursuant to the China ccTLD Dispute Resolution Policy (.CN Policy), the China ccTLD Dispute Resolution Policy Rules (.CN Rules), and the WIPO Supplemental Rules for China ccTLD Dispute Resolution Policy and China ccTLD Dispute Resolution Policy Rules (WIPO Supplemental Rules).

For those wishing to lodge disputes, they should consult the dedicated page for .CN and .中国 domain name dispute resolution services, including links to the above policy and procedural rules, model pleadings and case fees.

The page also features a comparison table highlighting the differences between the .CN Policy and the UDRP.

Under the WIPO-initiated Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP) the WIPO Center has processed some 44,000 cases. WIPO also provides its domain name services for over 75 Country Code Top-Level Domains (ccTLDs) as well as a number of generic top-level domain including .com and a number of new gTLDs to which the UDRP applies.

Confusing The Similarity Of Trademark Law In Domain Name Disputes

This article by Professor Christine Haight Farley originally published in the Akron Law Review anticipates doctrinal disorder in domain name disputes as a result of the new generic top-level domains (gTLDs).

The abstract for the article goes on to say that in the course of the intense and prolonged debate over the possibility of new gTLDs, no one seems to have focused on the conspicuous fact that domain name disputes incorporating new gTLDs will be markedly different from the first-generation domain name disputes under previous gTLDs.

Now second-generation disputes will have the added feature of the domain name having a suffix that will likely be a generic word, geographic term, or trademark. This addition is significant. Rather than disputes over <mcdonalds.com>, we will have disputes over <mcdonalds.ancestry>.

Before these new gTLDs, Uniform Dispute Resolution Procedure (UDRP) panels have routinely ignored the gTLD portion of the domain concluding that the suffix is inconsequential to their determinations of confusing similarity. This approach has already changed. While this change may seem trivial especially in a non-precedential system, the consequence of this change may be profound for trademark owners’ rights on the internet and portend a fundamental shift in how trademarks will be called upon to pick winners and losers in this new land grab.

It’s a 29-page article, which in its conclusion says:

The stated objective of the New gTLD Program was to enhance competition and consumer choice and enable the benefits of innovation via the introduction of new gTLDs. That objective would imply that new second-level domains should be widely available for registration. Registrants should be forewarned, however, that any second-level domain name registration that contains a trademark may be found to be confusingly similar even though the new gTLD should indicate to internet users that the domain name would not belong to the trademark owner. Continued lowering of the threshold as to what constitutes a “confusingly similar” domain name may make most of the newly created domain names subject to trademark holder takeover.

Currently the article by Farley, who is a Professor at the American University Washington College of Law, is currently only available publicly on the Social Science Research Network here.