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Domain Name - Reversing a UDRP decision with the ACPA

December 14, 2016

     What do you do when a trademark owner files a Uniform Domain Name Dispute Policy ("UDRP") complaint to transfer the domain name and the panel decides to transfer the domain name?

     Depending on the grounds for the UDRP decision, you may challenge the transfer with a claim of reverse-domain name hijacking under the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act ("ACPA"). Such a claim is possible if, the domain name registrar and/or the domain name holder are located in the U.S. because as in the UDRP complaint, the trademark owner agrees to jurisdiction of the courts at the location of the principal office of the concerned registrar, or the domain name holder's address. UDRP Rules Section 3(b)(xii).

    While there haven't been many reported cases challenging UDRP transfer decisions, one of the earliest cases making this claim is Walter v. Ville de Paris, S.D. Texas (4:09-cv-03939).  In that case, Ville de Paris, or the City of Paris, originally filed a UDRP complaint against Walter for the parvi.org domain name.  The UDRP panel transferred the domain name despite finding that the domain name was not originally registered in bad faith.  WIPO decision, Case No. D2009-1278.  Walter then filed a lawsuit alleging that the transfer violated the ACPA's reverse domain name hijacking provision.  Complaint.  Ville de Paris did not answer, and the court entered default judgment for Walter.

    Recent cases illustrate that aggrieved domain name holders are using the ACPA to challenge UDRP transfer decisions.

     In Marchex Sales, Inc. v. Tecnologia Bancaria, S.A., E.D. Va. (Civil Action No. 1:14cv1306), the domain name holder brought an ACPA claim for reverse domain name hijacking after the UDRP panel ordered the transfer of its two domains, banco24horas.com and banco24horas.net.  WIPO decision, Case No. D2014-0834.  Tecnologia failed to answer, and default judgment was entered for Marchex.  Google Scholar link.

     In Domain Vault LLC v. Bush and eClinicalWorks, LLC, D.Co. (Civil Action No. 14-cv-2621), the domain name holder brought an ACPA claim for reverse domain name hijacking after the UDRP panel ordered the transfer of its domain, eclinicalworks.com.  WIPO decision, Case No. D2014-1059.  This case was settled, so we don't know whether the domain was transferred.  However, I suspect that the domain name was not transferred because the WHOIS information does not reflect that the holder is eClinicalWorks, LLC.

     In Smith v. Director's Choice, LLC, D.N.J. (Civil Action No. 15-0008-71), the domain name holder brought an ACPA claim for reverse domain name hijacking after the UDRP panel ordered the transfer of its domain, directorschoice.com.  NAF decision, Claim No. FA1411001590433.  This case is still pending.

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