The former owner of the domain name Prince.com, Andrew Prince has filed a UDRP on the domain, claiming the domain which was sold by Mediaoptions.com for $235,000 in August was stolen.
The domain is currently at Moniker.com showing the buyers whois info but is locked by the registry so the respondent of the UDRP (as it is referred to below) is Moniker.com
Matter of fact in his telling of his story Dr. Hartnett mentioned that he was contacted in reference to this exact domain Prince.com:
“A few weeks ago John Mauriello from SnapNames/Moniker called me to see why I hadn’t paid an invoice for $35,000.
“For what I asked?”
“He said because I had sold the domain, Prince.com privately but I signed a 90 day exclusive with Moniker and the domain was in the August Showcase auction.”
“I told him I never owned that domain name.”
“This person put the domain up for auction using my name”
The story regarding Prince.com, as far as I have been able to piece it together from the information I already have from Dr. Hartnett, and the claims of Andrew Prince from his UDRP is that around the beginning of April 2010 the domain name was stolen.
The domain was submitted to the SnapNames.com monthly showcase auction for August. As part of submitting the domain to the SnapNames.com auction the domain was transferred into Moniker.com and as part of that process Moniker got a 90 day exclusive contract to sell the domain.
The reserve in the SnapNames.com auction was in excess of $350K.
The domain did not sell.
Shortly thereafter MediaOptions.com was retained to sell the domain and completed a sale sometime after the showcase auction ended but still in August for $235,000.
The original owner of the domain Andrew Prince is claming that the domain was stolen and sold without his permission and he did not not get any of the purchase price.
The buyer who paid $235,000 is now showing as the owner of the domain on the whois, but the domain is locked at the registry and not in the buyers control.
From the Complaint this is what Andrew Prince had to say about this domain:
“On April 4, 2010 the Registrar had changed.”
“That transfer at the beginning of April this year was undertaken without my knowledge or consent.”
“I have at no time had any contact with the Respondent or anyone acting for them. ”
“The only information that I have on the transfer is what I have been told by Claranet Limited the hosting company and the Technical contact for the Domain Name while it was in my name. In a telephone conversation on September 28, 2010 with Ian Davis, a team leader at Claranet I was informed that they received an email on March 24, 2010 from “Andrew Prince” using the account NOC1@fastservice.com purporting to come from me and requesting the transfer. The following day the sender of that email provided Claranet with the first and last letters of my password and that on March 30, 2010 they transferred the Domain Name.”
“I confirm that I have never contacted Claranet with a view to arranging transfer of the Domain Name, nor have I instructed anyone to contact them on my behalf. The Domain Name has been stolen from me.”
“I do not begin to understand what has happened. I have never sought to sell the Domain Name to anyone. From the sums of money mentioned, it is apparent that the Domain Name has a very high value. It is inconceivable that anyone would be paying that sum of money for an asset without checking very carefully the chain of title to that asset. In the UK if one purchases, a car which has been stolen one does not obtain title to the car. The responsibility is on the purchaser and any intervening dealers to conduct proper checks. With an asset said to be worth over half a million dollars it would be crass not to conduct in depth investigations. Failure to do so is strongly indicative, I suggest, that those involved in the theft and subsequent dealings in the Domain Name were aware either that the Domain Name had been stolen or was likely to have
The purpose of this Complaint is simply to recover my stolen property. I reported the theft to the Police on September 27, 2010.
“The Domain Name is confusingly similar to my registered UK trade mark no. 2123377, PRINCE (word and device) dated February 11, 1997 in classes 41 and 42. Details of my trade
mark registration taken from the database of the United Kingdom Intellectual Property office are at Annex 6. The mark comprises the word ‘PRINCE” and the device of a frog, the former being the more prominent. The mark is held in the joint names of my wife and myself. At Annex 7 is a communication from my wife confirming that she supports this complaint and agrees that, if the Complaint is successful, the Domain Name should be transferred into my name, as before.”
“Self-evidently, the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests to the Domain Name. The Respondent stole it. It is currently in use merely to resolve to the Google UK homepage.”
“I respectfully request the Panel to interrogate the Respondent and the underlying registrant and anyone else involved as to (a) precisely how and when and by whom the relevant transfers were effected and (b) what title checks were conducted to verify the title to this asset valued by the Respondent at over half a million dollars. ”
“Self-evidently, again, the Domain Name has been acquired by the Respondent in bad faith and while I can have no idea what plans the Respondent has for the Domain Name it is fair to assume that the planned use is abusive. No use of a stolen name can be anything other than abusive. Currently, if one enters the URL www.prince.com into the browser it resolves to the Google UK homepage. I assume, but do not know that the Respondent is rewarded in some way by Google.”
“Indeed I contend that any use of a stolen domain name must constitute an abusive use.”
A few observations:
First of all I’m not sure if a UDRP is a proper venue for such a claim, that is the return of a stolen domain name that seems to have been bought by an innocent third party. Maybe one of the lawyers that frequently comment on this blog can address that issue.
Second there is a LOT of time from the beginning of April when Mr. Prince says the domain was stolen until late September when this complaint was filed.
Moniker.com/SnapNames.com typically publicizes its showcase auctions pretty heavily and Prince.com was one of the stars of the auction.
One would hope if they owned as Mr. Prince says a domain worth over a half of million dollars, you would catch some news of the auction of the domain.
Thirdly based on the brief connection with Mr. Hartnett as decribed above, I would have to assume the same person that hacked into Hartnett computer, and took his identity and domains, is the same person involved here.
Therefore this would be a second victim of the same thief.