The Curious Case of a Law Firm’s Filing

Steve Levy ⬥ 21 April

A recent National Arbitration Forum (NAF) decision reveals that even attorneys can make questionable decisions when it comes to filing a complaint against a domain name registrant.

The Complainant, Steven J. Schwartzapfel and Shwartzapfel Lawyers, P.C., requested that and be transferred from the Respondent to the Complainant.

The first makes perfect sense; the latter, not so much.

The Complainant currently uses for its website, and the Respondent – Barrett Sharpe/Legal Hub, LLC – was using to display the following negative content about the Complainant:

The Complainant was granted relief for this website according to the Decision, but as of 4/18/14, the Respondent’s content appears to still be up.

The website used by the Complainant for his law firm: on 4-18-14.

The Respondent failed to submit a response, and, not surprisingly, Panelist Neil Anthony Brown QC found that was identical and/or Confusingly Similar to the Complainant’s business name, that the Respondent lacks Rights or Legitimate Interests in the domain name, and that the domain name was registered and used in bad faith. He then ordered that this domain name be transferred to the Complainant.

However, the Panelist seems to have been as confused by the request to transfer as we are, noting in his Decision that “As Complainants do not allege that they have rights in a trademark with respect to the domain name, the Panel is unable to make any findings as to whether that domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a mark in which Complainant has rights.”

Furthermore, as of April 18, 2014, there is no real content associated with the domain name, much less content regarding the Complainant, so there can’t be any bad faith registration.

An empty blog greets visitors to on 4/18/14.

I’m left wondering if this second domain was included in the complaint by mistake or if the Complainant law firm was just uneducated on the proper use of the UDRP. In either case the Panelist made the correct decision in denying the complaint against this domain.

The takeaway? If you think you may have a case against the current holder of a domain name, seek the advice of counsel based upon that counsel’s experience with domain name enforcement and his or her record of success (in case you’re wondering, I’ve only lost one case out of over 230 filed).

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