Master Call Connections, LLC (represented by Mikhail Lezhnev, New York, USA has been found guilty of Reverse Domain Name Hijacking on the domain name Mastercall.com.
The one member UDRP panel of David J. Steele found the domain name that was registered 23 years ago back on April 24th, 1995 which was 13 years before the Complainant filed a trademark which alleged a first in use date of January 1, 2000 which was still 5 years after the domain name was registered. (The trademark registration for the mark MASTERCALL was applied for on September 3, 2008 and claims a first use in commerce of January 1, 2000.)
Complainant first contacted Respondent and asked about purchasing the domain name in 2007.
The Parties exchanged offers/counteroffers but were unable to reach an agreement (the Complainant offering to buy the domain name for $40,000; Respondent offering to sell it for $100,000 and several other terms that permitted Respondent to continue using the domain name for several email addresses and webpages).
In 2013, the Parties again engaged in negotiations over the possible sale of the domain name. These negotiations included multiple emails, and at least one telephone conversation, between the Parties, and lasted until February, 2014. Like the 2007 effort, the Parties did not reach an agreement to sell the domain name (the Complainant offering to buy the domain name for $2,500; the Respondent offering to sell it for $15,000 and several other terms that permitted Respondent to continue using the domain name for several email addresses).
“The evidence shows that Complainant was aware Respondent was using the domain name in connection with Respondent’s consulting business. Specifically, the evidence includes multiple emails during the 2007 and 2013/2014 negotiations that made clear to Complainant that Respondent was using the domain name in connection with its ongoing consulting business, and that Respondent desired to continue using certain emails on the domain name even if a sale to Complainant were consummated. Further, Complainant’s Exhibit 4 confirms what Complainant already knew from its multiple contacts with Respondent during these negotiations that Respondent was using the domain name in connection with its bona fide offering of its consulting services.
“Complainant conveniently ignored this information when preparing its Complaint and instead, made misstatements to the Panel including, “[t]he website [available at mastercall.com] is inactive, lacks content, and appears to have no legitimate purpose” despite its knowledge of, and plain evidence to the contrary.
“Similarly, Complainant explained to the Panel that “Respondent refused [Complainant’s $5,000 offer] and demanded $15,000 without providing any legitimate reason for [Respondent’s] retention of the domain name.” The emails exchanged between the Parties, which are attached as exhibits to Respondent’s Reply, make clear that during numerous good-faith negotiations between the Parties, Respondent was making a business decision regarding selling its domain name. Respondent further explained, generally, that it would have been expensive and time consuming to change its domain name. Respondent explained in one email:
“We have further assessed the impact in selling our domain name. We have been in business since 1993 and much of our business through referrals, many of whom find us via the internet. We have investment in printed materials such as business cards, stationary as well as yard signs. In addition, we have to get the word out to our real estate agent base and they will have to update their materials that they provide to their sellers. In short, it will not be an easy transition.”
Given the facts of this case, Respondent need not have provided any reason for not selling the subject domain name. But here, Respondent did provide its reasons yet, Complainant failed to accurately convey that fact to the Panel. Complainant likely chose to inaccurately convey that fact to the Panel to bolster its case. Complainant omitted these important facts from its Complaint, notwithstanding its certification that “the information contained in [the Complaint] is to the best of Complainant’s knowledge complete and accurate. (emphasis added).
Respondent has shown knowledge on the part of Complainant of Respondent’s right or legitimate interest in the subject domain name. Further Complainant’s misstatements and omissions of material facts evidence that Complainant is merely using “the Policy as a tool to simply wrest the disputed domain name in spite of its knowledge that the Complainant was not entitled to that name and hence had no colorable claim under the Policy”).
The Panel finds that reverse domain name hijacking has occurred.