The domain name POG.co, owned by someone from China, was lost in a UDRP complaint that was filed by the owner of POG.com,Web Entertainment Limited. The case is rather interesting from many aspects so let’s try to find out what happened and why.
Was the domain name lost because a DomainNameSales.com (Uniregistry market) broker offered the domain name for sale to the Complainant for $3,999? It appears so. Of course the change of ownership in March 2016 and some infringing PPC links also helped in loosing this domain.
The problems started when the domain name pog.co changed hands in March 2016. The domain was sold to a buyer from China. This is a kind of an emerging problem in UDRP complaints since the boom of the Chinese domain name market and the massive amount of domain names that have changed ownership in past year. A change of domain name ownership counts as a new registration as far as a UDRP complaint is concerned.
So the registration date of the disputed domain name POG.co is stated as March 5, 2016 (the date that the domain changed ownership) in the decision even thought the domain name was registered in 2010. That is not explained properly in decision.
Then the domain name was offered for sale to the owner of POG.com for the price of $3,999 using a DomainNameSales.com broker. This is the main reason that the domain was ordered to be transferred and the domain name was lost. The owner claimed that the domain was offered for sale by the previous owner but the evidence submitted contradicted the claim, probably because of the date of the DomainNameSales.com broker email.
Of course when making a finding of bad faith registration the panelist also factored in that the domain name was used “in connection with a free parking website, which provides the links of free online games and movies (competing with Complainant’s services).“. The domain currently displays the default GoDaddy landing page without any infringing links.
But my main concern with this decision remains. A broker caused this domain name to be lost in UDRP. It doesn’t really matter if the broker contacted the trademark owner before or after the change of ownership. What matters is that the broker did contact the trademark owner. How and why was the contact made?
Did the broker check UDRPSearch.com to see if there have been any UDRP complaints for other “pog” domains? They would have seen that there was a pending or terminated complaint for pog.name. “Web Entertainment” has filed 13 complaints so far mainly targeting their “pog” and “y8” marks and has not lost a case so far. A fellow domainer from Greece lost the domain y8.org to them but that is another interesting story.
The only excuse I can find for the broker is that pog.com is using whois privacy so the broker could not have seen the name of the .com owner and search for the complainant.
But still that is really not an excuse for a professional broker. The broker should have at least searched the US and the EU trademark office for “pog” trademarks and avoid contacting any of the owners. If he wasn’t sure then he should have avoided emailing a whois privacy email address that he/she could not have known where it would end up.
So any domain name owner that assigns his domains to a broker should be really careful, ask the right questions before assigning any domains and demand that the broker respects trademark rights and be familiar with domain name law and UDRP complaints.
I am particularly interested in this case as I own the domain name POG.biz and was threatened in February 2016 with a UDRP complaint by Web Entertainment Limited. I explained to them that I was not infringing their mark and that I had registered the domain name in 2006. That was 6 years before they got their figurative EU trademark in 2012. I also included in the correspondence their lawyer Marc Randazza. Someone from the Randazza legal group immediately contacted me and said that they will discuss the matter with their client and that they could offer me $1,500 for the domain. I countered their offer and I have since not heard from them again.