A recent NAF decisions illustrates a problem which domainers have been griping about for years: The UDRP can be used by overly aggressive corporations and their attorneys in order to hijack domain names in which they have no rights. The latest NAF decision in the case of Kellogg North America v Gregor Illustrates abuse of the UDRP by trademark holders all too well. Fortunately, the NAF panelist came to the correct result, finding that complainant failed to establish a lack of legitimate interest or bad faith under the facts presented.
Several factors lead me to the conclusion that Kellogg and its attorney full well that they were abusing the UDRP when they brought their claims of cybersquatting against the registrant of eggo.com.
First of all, Kellogg had significant communication with the respondent prior to bringing the UDRP arbitration. Kellogg initiated contact with respondent with a “cease and desist letter”. Kellogg’s attorneys then offered to purchase the domain name. When the price proved to be too high, they decided to take a chance under the UDRP.
Secondly, eggo.com is clearly a consulting firm operating as a legitimate business. A review of their website establishes this fact. There are no links on the site which have any relationships to Kellogg’s Eggo Waffles and no overlap at all in the business between the two companies.
In short, respondent could have easily asked for a reverse domain hijacking decision under the facts of this case. It is likely that the panelist would have found reverse domain name hijacking by Kellogg under the facts presented. It is hard to believe that counsel for Kellogg could have been so unsophisticated under the UDRP so as to believe that they had a legitimate chance of success in securing this domain. It is far more likely that they simply “took a chance” that they might obtain a panelist to render an abhorrent UDRP decision.