Garbage In, Garbage Out

Steve Levy ⬥ 14 October

LA UDRP Panelist has, once again, sharply lambasted CitizenHawk for its mishandling of a complaint on behalf of one of its clients.  The Panelist went so far as to find the client, Tiny Prints, Inc., guilty of “reverse domain name hijacking” (RDNH). Tiny Prints, Inc. v. Oceanside Capital Corp. c/o Web Admin, NAF Claim No. FA1007001337650 (2010).

CitizenHawk describes itself as a provider of digital brand management solutions; the majority of the work the company does involves recovering cybersquatted or typosquatted domain names for its clients, managing those domains, and defensively registering other domain names.  It was founded in 2006 by Graham MacRobie, who is now the President and CEO of Alias Encore, a company that appears to have the same general business model.

One of the services that CitizenHawk touts is its ability to identify infringing typo domains of its clients’ brands.  But it uses automated searches to perform this task, meaning it simply provides a laundry list of registered typo domains without discerning which are actually worth pursuing.  While CitizenHawk avers that this approach is much more time efficient, removing the human element produces cookie-cutter results that are in no way tailored to their clients’ individual needs.  The company takes the same approach in filing UDRP complaints on its clients’ behalf, hence its repeated failures to recover names and chastisement by UDRP Panelists.

In the Tiny Prints decision the WIPO Panelist noted that “this Complaint, prepared by Complainant’s representative, CitizenHawk, is so poorly drafted and difficult to read that the Panel found it necessary to study the exhibits and review online data to make sense of the allegations.”  After denying the claim, it went on to find that the Tiny Prints and CitizenHawk had engaged in reverse domain hijacking since no proof of prior trademark rights had been submitted, even after the Panelist specifically gave them an opportunity to produce evidence after the complaint was filed.

Sadly, a prior CitizenHawk client had suffered at the hands of its production-style method of filing UDRP complaints.  In, Inc. v. Inofirma, Ltd c/o Domain Administrator, NAF Claim No. FA1002001310279 (2010) the Panelist said it was “quite troubled by the apparent carelessness with which the Complaint in this proceeding was prepared.”   “[T]he Panel believes that it was prepared by some sort of automatic process with little or no human review.”  In support of this it was noted that “[t]he Complaint includes an obviously false contention regarding the timing of the registration of the disputed domain name.”

Speculation now abounds as to whether Tiny Prints or will pursue legal action against CitizenHawk for either malpractice or negligence. 

Tags: Alias Encore, brands, CitizenHawk, cybersquatting, digital brand management, domain names, enforcement, Graham MacRobie, Inc., RDNH, Reverse Domain Name Hijacking, Tiny Prints Inc., trademark rights, typosquatting, UDRP, WIPO

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