When He Said-She Said Turns into Reverse Domain Name Hijacking

Steve Levy ⬥ 23 April

The real story in HTL Automotive, Inc. v. Techshire, NAF Claim Number: FA1203001435046 (2012) may be the one about a law firm that doesn’t know when to say “no” to its clients. The spectacular failure of the complaint here provides yet another lesson to brand owners on why it’s so important to hire experienced and competent UDRP counsel. The NAF Panelist in this case held the Complainant guilty of reverse domain name hijacking (RDNH) and stated that the case should never have been filed because the domain name in question, hooman.com, was registered before the Complainant’s trademark rights existed, and an individual at the Respondent’s business actually has the surname Hooman, which is identical to the disputed domain. To add insult to injury, the Panelist found that the Complainant had fabricated evidence when it claimed that the Respondent, in a phone call, offered to sell the domain for $25,000.00.

While the Complainant itself may be responsible for some of these shortcomings, it seems that its counsel is no stranger to such controversy. The Counsel in this case had also previously gotten not one but two other clients tagged with the reverse domain name hijacking mark of shame in earlier cases. See, Mirabella Beauty Products, LLC v. Mrs Jello, LLC, WIPO Case No. D2009-0673 and Von Eric Lerner Kalaydjian v. Simon Steinle, NAF Claim Number: FA0205000114371 (2002).

One of the most important cases a reputable lawyer will ever handle is the one he/she never files. In addition to the role of zealous advocate, an important role for any lawyer is that of the careful Counsel when a given set of facts do not make out a good case. Even the most emotional and aggressive client can eventually be helped to understand that it needs to avoid filing a case that is either groundless or possibly unethical, but it takes a firm and confident lawyer to do so. Sadly, the law firm in this case now has three clients who have learned that lesson the hard way.

Tags: brand owners, domain names, enforcement, HTL Automotive Inc., law firm, Mirabella Beauty Products LLC., NAF, RDNH, Reverse Domain Name Hijacking, Techshire, UDRP, WIPO Case No. D2009-0673

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