Respondent Defaults, but Panel Finds Reverse Hijacking Anyway
Date: Wednesday January 01 2003, @06:40AM
Topic: Uniform Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP)

dtobias writes "In what may be a first for the UDRP, a panelist has made a finding of Reverse Domain Hijacking in a case where the respondent failed to respond, in the dvla.com decision from WIPO."

The complainant, British government agency Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency, apparently is unhappy with its logical site address within gov.uk and, catching "dot-com-itis" with the rest of the world's marketroids, wished to have an address that incorrectly implies that they are a commercial entity. Unfortunately, dvla.com is owned and used by American company DVL Automation Inc, of Bristol, Pennsylvania.

Strangely enough, given that the domain is in active use for a legitimate business, they failed to respond to the UDRP case, which seems to indicate bad management or inadequate legal counsel on the part of that company. Fortunately for them, the panelist found the complainant to be even more incompetent, as they provided facts in their complaint that actually undermined their own claims that the respondent lacked rights or legitimate interest in the domain and had registered it in bad faith.

In the complaint, the British agency (which filed the complaint in its own name, leaving Her Majesty out of it, unlike the recent newzealand.com case) revealed company registration information from Pennsylvania that showed that the respondent was legally registered as a corporation in the name of DVL Automation. It was nice of them to volunteer this information given that the respondent failed to respond; if they had left it out, maybe they would have won, given how panelists are inclined to construe all unknown facts against a defaulting respondent. The complainant further volunteered comments regarding the content of the Web site at the domain in question, which certainly appears to be a legitimate business site. Panelists are divided over whether it's proper for a panelist to do independent investigation of their own (e.g., look to see what site is at a given address, or search trademark records) or if they should be like juries, learning only facts brought before them in the case; in this case, all the relevant information was given the panelist by the complainant.

The outcome was that the respondent kept the domain, and a finding of Reverse Domain Name Hijacking was made (an extreme rarity, especially in cases where the respondent didn't specifically request this ruling; in fact, some panelists have given rulings where they indicated that they thought a complaint was in bad faith but still declined to find RDNH because they weren't specifically asked to do so).

The panelist showed particular scorn for the complainant's assertion that it was "inconceivable" that the respondent hadn't heard of them, since they were a highly famous driver's licence and vehicle registration agency. According to the panelist, it's perfectly reasonable that an American respondent would in fact be unaware of the names and abbreviations of such agencies outside their home state. This is very reasonable to me; I'm not even entirely sure, offhand, what my own state's licensing agency is called (despite all the time wasted in line getting my license and registration), let alone those of other states and countries.

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Re: Respondent Defaults, but Panel Finds Reverse H
by jwkckid1@ix.netcom.c on Wednesday January 01 2003, @12:24PM (#10807)
User #1468 Info
I personally found this particular UDRp case interesting
and funny at the same time. It is funny because of the
claim by the complaintant that they felt that their
DN was essentially "Famous" as if it was a famous mark (TM)
using the IPC's (Intelectual Property Constituency's)
frequently bogus argument to justify their complaint.
In addition the other funny part is that the respondant
of the DN in question or dvla.com did not reapond as if
the UDRP was not really relevant and yet won because of the
bogus argument of the Famous Mark argument by the complaintant,
hence the pannel arrived at a seemingly just a bogus decision
as to in effect say a reverse Domain Name Hijacking was
being attempted by the complaintant before the actual fact, yet
using the UDRP to bolster it's bogus claim anyway.
Simply amazing, yet compleatly stupid on the part of both
the complaintant and the Panel!

Regards,
Jeff Williams
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Re: Respondent Defaults, but Panel Finds Reverse H
by Muhhk on Thursday January 02 2003, @01:27AM (#10813)
User #3085 Info
So the DVLA decide to follow the fine example of the Financial Services Authority, which attempted to reverse-hijack fsa.co.uk from a steel company.

Good to see that these various government agencies are clued-up as to what all these domain names actually do...
[ Reply to This | Parent ]
Re: Respondent Defaults, but Panel Finds Reverse H
by dtobias (dan@tobias.name) on Thursday January 02 2003, @01:56AM (#10815)
User #2967 Info | http://domains.dan.info/
That one didn't make a finding of reverse domain hijacking, however.
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