Sedo Refuses To Help Me With My Legal Battle With Alibaba

sedoOnce again Sedo screws me big time. They refuse to help me with the legal battle I am having with the Alibaba Group for the past 4 years. But let’s start from the beginning. Back in 2004 I registered the domain name alibaba.info. You know… Ali Baba from the tale Ali Baba and the 40 thieves. Then is 2011 Alibaba Group Holding Limited filed a UDRP complaint against my company at the Asian Domain Name Dispute Resolution Centre. The Dispute Case ID was HK-1100361. Guess what happened? Alibaba lost! They lost because Ali Baba is a fictional character, never offered the domain name for sale to their company and many other reasons including the fact I was displaying ads from children’s books. Here is the decision in pdf where the dispute is denied. Then the Alibaba Group filed a complained in Greek courts over trademark infringement. I still have not understood why I lost but I did. I guess I do know but I rather not say. I filed for an appeal and my lawyer mentioned that if Alibaba knew that I owned the domain for 5 years and did nothing, then the case would be thrown out. I remembered I have received 3 anonymous offers at Sedo before the complaint. So I asked them to disclose the contact details of the 3 inquiries. A Sedo representative told me after I requested this information: “I have spoken with legal team and we will need to receive a request from your legal representative with the request. As private details will be disclosed, we need to have a formal request in cases such as this.” At about the same time someone from Sedo’s legal department had told me that I need a court order to get this information. A Greek court will not issue a court order on what seems to them to be a “hunch”. Especially to a foreign company. I asked Sedo if I could provide them with 3 names and they could tell me a yes or no. They refused. If I had that I might be able to convince the court to issue a court order. Otherwise I could jeopardize the case. So I paid my lawyer and apparently wasted my time and money to send this formal request only to receive this reply yesterday: “Your email and letter dated 14 October have been forwarded to my attention.

Your client Mr. Zournas is a valued Sedo customer and while I’m sure the dispute over his domain name must be very frustrating for him, unfortunately Sedo cannot disclose the confidential information you have requested. As I explained to Mr. Zournas in March when he asked for the same information, Sedo takes it’s role as a neutral marketplace facilitator very seriously and cannot get involved in disputes between users. In addition, Sedo takes very seriously its privacy duties to all Sedo users and cannot release another user’s contact information without their approval or unless pursuant to a formal request for the data from a court of competent jurisdiction. Upon confirmation from the court that it will protect the confidentiality of such information, that information will be shared with the court directly.
 
If you have any questions please let me know.”
I don’t even know why I am receiving a response from the legal team in the US where instead I should be getting a response from the German Sedo legal team. The court case is in Greece and Germany has similar legal system to Greece.
So the company I have used for many years and have made them thousands of $$$ in sales commissions and domain parking is about to cost me a few thousands in legal fees after and if I loose.
So thank you Sedo for protecting a multi-billion company against a long term customer. Thanks a lot.

The lessons here? 1) Don’t respond to anonymous offers. Don’t use Sedo to sell domains. 2) Don’t use Sedo or any other service that hides the buyer’s details and then refuses to disclose them in case of a legal matter. Just don’t. It is not worth it. I won the complaint against me for Toyotomi.com a couple of months back, partly because the complainant revealed they had made an anonymous offer to purchase the domain name and after we negotiated they filled for a UDRP. The case would have been a lot harder if And if you think I receive too many UDRP complaints, I say that you are wrong. I have only received 2 in the past 4 years (2011 and 2015) and I won both of them by replying to the complaints myself.

Sold.Domains

About Konstantinos Zournas

Konstantinos studied Computer Engineering and Computer Science in London and lives in Athens, Greece. He works on domain names, websites and software development. Has been online since 1995 & domaining since 2002.

70 comments

  1. Oh men. Hopefully this resolves somehow so you can put this nightmare behind you.

  2. I realize your frustration. Clearly, Ali Baba means much more than an import/export directory company………..SEDO may be using the U.S.A office because private information MUST have a COURT ORDER to be shared. There would be grave negligence on SEDO if they gave away private information without a court order…..Maybe, laws are different within German and Greek courts….Again, I feel for your frustration….

  3. Why bother defending this domain? It is a .info. It is not a premium .info. And it will only have value to the company that is taking you to court. I’ve deleted a domain before because the potential cost to legally fight something was more then I would have even asked for the domain.

  4. What sedo is doing 100% of US Companies with proper legal representation would do the exact same thing. The protection, and privacy of anonymous offers should not be influenced by outside matters. If it is not alibaba, and some other party then sedo becomes liable to action from that party.

    Just because you did business with sedo, and made them commissions, they do not owe you a favor, they will tell you in the same light they sold your domains, and made you even more money.

    What Alibaba is doing is not right, I feel you are entitled to the name, but as many have warned, this is the route big companies choose to take, I am sure it would have been cheaper just to throw low 5 figures your way for all parties.

  5. I’m with Sedo here. As much as they’d like to give you the info on a one-off basis, that opens up a can of worms. They should require a court order.

    • They don’t want to help. Do you know why? They haven’t even told me where to send the court order.

      • You asked them were to send the court order and they didn’t respond?

        Don’t get me wrong, this sucks for you and you might be a in trap given your court system.

      • I have asked them 3 very important questions regarding jurisdiction (and where to send the court order) and their terms.
        I am waiting for their reply.

      • one argument could be that Sedo’s registered chart is within the EU, so is Greece -regardless if Sedo also operates in North America, the Database is updated daily in the EU jurisdiction. Sedo uses and avoid bi-tribute by invoking reciprocity ( othewise they would likely face problems with the dual euro / us in-or-out vats scheme .. ). Maybe that’s why they havent answered the Jurisdiction question.
        Andrew, dont get me wrong, are you in their payroll ?

  6. There is no bigger joke than the Greek judicial system. Kangaroo courts and delays.

  7. The title of your post should be “Sedo will not compromise your privacy just because somebody that made them money before ask them to do so”.

    I sympathize with you here and I hope you will win your battle with Alibaba eventually, but I agree with what they did and how they explained their decision. To say they screwed you over if very unprofessional at the least.

    • You forget they told me to send a request from my lawyer. Then they said something different.

      • I agree they are playing the jurisdiction hide and seek with you.

        To be honest, they want no part of this, and I am sure it is nothing personal, but they would rather most likely just avoid anything to do with this case.

        There is a good firm Liberman over in WA, if you can hire them, along with your other lawyers, and beat alibaba, hopefully they will give up, and just pay, otherwise you are in a dogfight for an extension that has decreased value in 2015

      • And I forgot that they can do whatever they want with the information they have:
        “Further, we can, and you authorize us to, disclose to a third party your information, including your name, street address, city, state, zip code, country, phone number, email, and company name, as we in our sole discretion believe necessary or appropriate in connection with an investigation of fraud, intellectual property infringement, piracy, or other unlawful activity.”

        They just chose not to help ME.

      • They should have told you to send a court order, not the lawyer’s request, from the beginning.

    • And I forgot that they can do whatever they want with the information they have:
      “Further, we can, and you authorize us to, disclose to a third party your information, including your name, street address, city, state, zip code, country, phone number, email, and company name, as we in our sole discretion believe necessary or appropriate in connection with an investigation of fraud, intellectual property infringement, piracy, or other unlawful activity.”

      They just chose not to help ME.

  8. The creator of Alibaba (story) would not side with the Chinese company.

  9. I agree matter of ethics but it is very hard to beat big business saw a man fight a big petrol company that had done him wrong he fought and fought hard for years and years it took its toll and lost his family , kids , friends , home , business and everything he had in the end he won and beat them and was finally proved right but at what cost and when you see what he lost did he truly win in the end

  10. Konstantinos,

    You’re stuck between a rock and a hard place. And I sympathize. The Chinese company has no right to confiscate Alibaba.info.

    I do feel that Sedo has a responsibility to safeguard customer privacy. That’s so simply because its customers have used Sedo expecting such privacy to be honored. As a buyer and broker, I do rely on my offers remaining anonymous.

    Ideally Sedo might have worked out a policy that would enable them to provide you information in this situation … but, at the same time, a policy that couldn’t be exploited to damage other customers’ expectation of privacy. No company is prepared for every eventuality; so perhaps yours is a test case, in reaction to which Sedo can craft a better policy.

    It might be argued that, since the domain is at risk of being seized anyway, no harm would be done to the person(s) who made you 3 offers via Sedo in the past. However, if you win on appeal, then you’d have access to their personal information, which they didn’t intend to share. So clearly Sedo would be wrong to share their information with you directly.

    Their offer to share this information with the court, after some assurance of privacy, seems the only way for Sedo to be fair to its buyer customers. Yet, even in saying that, I realize that a Greek judge wouldn’t be able to connect the dots from an employee’s contact information (or a broker’s) to the Chinese company – not as you’d be able to.

    Certainly Sedo shouldn’t give 1 customer’s private contact information to another customer simply because he says he needs it. Nor even because his lawyer wants it. While I trust you, Konstantinos, I definitely don’t trust the majority of big domainers or big companies – who also do a lot of business with Sedo. We don’t want them or their lawyers obtaining our private details on anonymous offers. The amount of business they do at Sedo shouldn’t give them the ability to violate our privacy. Nor should it matter that they have a lawyer who can invent a paper trail. No, it must be a court order – nothing less.

    It’s a bad situation, thanks to the Greek court that sided with AliBaba.com. But we, as Sedo customers, deserve to have our privacy respected – except when there’s a court order. What I wish is that the Greek court would understand this predicament they’ve caused and give you such a court order.

    Really, your case may not be improved at all merely by seeing these Sedo offers. They may not show any connection.

    Can you not win on principle still? Since you have appealed, is there no other way to prevail in Greek courts – no other argument to be made? Common sense and ethics are on your side, after all. Let’s assume Sedo awaits a court order to divulge private contact information. Is it impossible to obtain that court order? Assuming the Sedo information doesn’t come or else comes and doesn’t help, you must have another strategy.

    • Sedo is not neutral. I have no respect for sedo;
      here is what they did to me:
      -I own a domain that is a generic word and has *never* been listed for sale [ it once belonged to my sedo portfolio but it was never listed for sale at sedo nor anywhere else. ]
      -it was never parked there nor any other PPC platform; I never approached any company for this name.
      -My business runs on it.
      -I was approached by a large corporate entity, I told them it wasn’t for sale but they insisted on a conference call; I agreed and it was scheduled
      -Meanwhile a Sedo broker/sr acct mgr, offered me money based on a client’s offer; I declined stating I would have to price my own business to even consider it;
      -Sedo broker kept replying on top of my reply, constantly *changing* the context – I knew right then that the corporate entity was behind it;
      -I confronted the entity and sure enough, … I even have the audio.
      Had I trusted the sedo person, such entity would have filed for an udrp. they still might.
      Entrapment it was, so I’m not surprised by their attitude towards your problem.
      don’t trust them, take your assets out of there, they won’t blink in stabbing an investor if offered money.
      I hope you are able to get your .info back …

      • This is a really disturbing story.
        Thanks

      • hi Konstantinos, it is indeed.
        I sent the domain in question to you via your contact form ..
        If I get an udrp ..
        I dont understand why others would suggest you to “just give in the name” .. as you said, out of principle, what’s right is right and what’s not is not.
        .. could you not invoke public act wihin the EU, after all Greece is in the EU ..

    • Joseph they do have a policy for such issues:
      “Further, we can, and you authorize us to, disclose to a third party your information, including your name, street address, city, state, zip code, country, phone number, email, and company name, as we in our sole discretion believe necessary or appropriate in connection with an investigation of fraud, intellectual property infringement, piracy, or other unlawful activity.”

      And I didn’t really want their contact information. I gave them 3 names from the Alibaba personnel and wanted a yes or no. It was that simple.
      Even a simple nod would suffice.

      This is not a simple request. It included the court case number and all the info about the case and the appeal.

      You are right that the Sedo offers might not help. I won the UDRP without this help.
      Greek courts are a different story.
      A Sedo offer from Alibaba would throw the case out in 2 minutes.
      I do have another strategy and I have already submitted it to the court.

  11. There are thousands of thousands movies and animations named Alibaba and using the character Alibaba. Even a moron knows that it is an absolute nonsense for the Chinese company to sue them for the so-called infringement of trademark.

  12. That’s bully shiii
    who allow that company get the name Alibaba …and holds it as their TM …? King of Arabic world ? or Alibaba himself ?

  13. Here’s what enters my mind…what would you have taken for it? 500? 750 tops? I think you got a little big headed and tried to keep the name. The problem is it’s as worthless as all other .info domains….and you should know that. I can’t imagine why you wouldn’t see their desire for it and that it to anyone else it is of very very little value….Ron said .info’s were down in 2015….they have never been up to be down…..you know what your mistake was? Not securing the name in a dot IO! This is the king of all extensions! Had you done that you could have paraded around anywhere saying anything…Alibaba’s products explode and burn babies….they wouldn’t care probably….but they know .info makes sense so there is concern….

    • They never asked me to buy the domain. And they never contacted me.
      They just filed for a UDRP out of the blue. At that point I can’t offer them to sell the domain.

      Regarding .info value… This is just your opinion. I defended KPN.info with a UDRP complaint and then sold it for $15,000.
      Take a look here at the .info value.

      • wow….shut my mouth…I would love to say it’s all bullshit as I never have had the first inquiry on an info (I have owned over 50) and that’s why I own two. Both are excellent and the phone never rings…I find it pretty hard to believe people would pay those prices but hey my hat’s off to you for selling them! I have never seen any .info market at all! Where do these people come from????

  14. Oh well manong.io beat you to it! Awesome names with awesome extensions don’t last long! There’s your proof!

  15. Sedo is the crappiest company in the domain industry. I would never let them make a penny off me.

  16. I’m with you. If you try to steal my domain, no matter how good or bad the domain is, I’m defending it. Shame on Alibaba.com for apparently trying to steal this domain.

    I don’t think Sedo would have been smart to release the information without a court order. They should have said that 1st. Also, sadly, it sounds like your court system is working against you. You may just have to fold your cards, right or wrong.

    Maybe get another legal opinion there in Greece?

  17. If you lose maybe you can file a lawsuit against sedo. If they are hiding alibaba’s data, they deserve to pay damages, because they clearly know already from now that revealing those data or don’t makes a huge difference in court.

    You are nor forcing anything here, they have already stated everything writing clearly:

    “Further, we can, and you authorize us to, disclose to a third party your information, including your name, street address, city, state, zip code, country, phone number, email, and company name, as we in our sole discretion believe necessary or appropriate in connection with an investigation of fraud, intellectual property infringement, piracy, or other unlawful activity.”

    If this is not a case where they in their sole discretion have to do the “necessary or appropriate investigation of fraud, intellectual property infringement, piracy, or other unlawful activity.”, then I don’t know what could be that case. They wrote it, not you. They, in their sole discretion, are deliberately causing you damages. This deserve a lawsuit.

  18. so if you suggest “Don’t respond to anonymous offers” how do you treat offers? If someone asks if a domain is for sale, do you ignore those also?

    Will you now sell only when you want to?

  19. I feel your pains, those brokers ‘such as sedo and the likes in the name of protecting other people’s identity tend to over do things in such a situation like this. What I thought they ‘sedo’ could have done to assist you on issue like this is just to give you 10names I.e 7incorrect and 3correct potential buyers. With this atleast u would be able to have a glimpse or draw conclusion of knowing who the buyer could have been. I am talking from experience Fdboss.com is a place you can try or USattorney.space . Hope this is helpful

  20. Not really on topic, but something regarding Sedo that really has pissed me off: I own the name Obamo.com and they will not list it because it’s too close to the US President’s name. That is ridiculous. Plus, they do have listed other names that are similar in other ways, like Obamy.com and Obamma.com. Several complaints have done nothing. All my complaints and suggestions for improving their site seem to go into a black box.

  21. Sedo has become a trash marketplace. They told me some of my domains are worth nothing after requesting for their great domains auction. (Surgeon(dot)info is apparently worth $0). No wonder Flippa is winning the race and Sedo sales are nothing like they used to be.

    • and isnt appraising s* domains as “1999USD” a deceptive and evil way to get newbies hooked on false premisses ?

      • @TheAliBaba,

        Newbie domainers are eager to be deceived by anybody and everybody. They come to “get rich quick”; so they arrive fooled in advance.

        Many websites give automatic “appraisals”, not just Sedo. Really, I think you misunderstand Sedo’s motivation. Primarily, Sedo makes money by selling domains. If they make money that way (15%), then so do you as the domain seller (85%). During the upload process, these “appraisals” are displayed as pricing guides. Rather than inflating price expectations, what these numbers usually do is steer newbie domainers away from their unrealistic expectations of $5 million and toward the retail price range where domains actually sell. Usually that’s downward.

        Yes, disreputable people in this industry will hook the newbies and take advantage of them; but that description really doesn’t fit Sedo at all. Sedo is quite neutral, quite passive, almost indifferent to its own marketing. Contrast that with Flippa, which has marketed itself much more aggressively to newbie domainers via the forums and DomainSherpa.

        Getting “newbies hooked on false premises” is something a person could claim much more plausibly about Flippa, given its business model and marketing approach. Flippa too offers appraisals. Unlike Sedo, Flippa gets paid by newbies whether they make money from an auction or not; and, also unlike Sedo, Flippa has made substantial effort to recruit newbies.

        Am I saying that Flippa is evil? No. You’re saying “Sedo” is. Konstantinos has reason to be upset. But Sedo isn’t “evil” for suggesting relatively low prices to newbie domainers.

        @Jeremy,

        When you say “Flippa is winning the race”, what metric are you using? During 2014, Flippa sold $2.15 million in domains according to this blog. Meanwhile, Sedo totals around $1 – $1.5 million per week. If Flippa works for you, by all means use it! But let’s not pretend Flippa is beating out Sedo.

      • I meant in growth. Flippa acquired Domain Holdings Group which will make it larger than Sedo. (http://onlinedomain.com/2015/05/20/news/flippa-acquires-domain-holdings-expects-this-years-sales-to-exceed-70m/)

      • @Jeremy,

        Yes, Flippa’s growth during the past year has been impressive. Larger companies find it harder to double their market share than smaller companies. Flippa had much farther to travel than Sedo, which (you might say) had already arrived. So it’s a bit of an apples versus oranges comparison. Still, I do concede that (in terms of innovation) Sedo has been quite sluggish.

      • Sedo and innovation parted ways 5-6-7 years ago.

      • My domains were approved for the GreatDomains auction so they weren’t ‘crap’. Sedo has a weird way of appraising domains.

  22. Huh! Ask me about SEDO. When I was battling with the sale of Mobile.co; they sent me legal threats to comply with the seller’s terms; although I cancelled the sale before they had received the buyer’s funds; although I explained to them it was a mistake from one of my staff to have clicked the accept button; although they don’t send proceeds to Lebanon and I still have unpaid earnings from domains i sold through them since decades ago; yet ironically they accept money from Lebanon. What can I tell you about SEDO!! I can go on forever.

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