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UK Agriculture Company Soiled By RDNH

Case Number: D2019-1532

Complainant: AgSpace Agriculture, Limited

Represented by:

An agricultural company, based in the United Kingdom, has been found guilty of attempted Reverse Domain Name Hijacking by a single-member panel at the World Intellectual Property Organization, after trying unsuccessfully to use the UDRP process to grab the domain agspace.com. The company, AgSpace Agriculture, Limited, was represented by internal counsel. The respondent, Anthony Glynn, resides in Spain and operates a business called AG Space Industries, which operates an online marketplace at agspace.com. Mr. Glynn registered agspace.com in 1998. The complaint was filed June 28, 2019.

Interestingly, the complainant admitted its business did not exist at the time Mr. Glynn registered the domain. AgSpace Agriculture, Ltd. wrote that it was predicating its complaint on an apparent lack of business activity on the domain, drawing the inference that Mr. Glynn no longer had legitimate rights to use agspace.com.

However, the sole panelist in this case, Flip Jan Claude Petillion, disagreed, using the complainant’s own previous attempts to acquire the domain against it. Of note, in addition to the registration timeline of the domain, Mr. Petillion observed the complainant had apparently used the threat of a UDRP against Mr. Glynn from the outset of its negotiations to consummate an aftermarket purchase, adding the summary of three particular emails AgSpace Agriculture, Ltd. had sent to Mr. Glynn prior to filing the UDRP.

In denying the complainant’s petition, Mr. Petillion observed AgSpace Agriculture had committed a naked abuse of the UDRP process, one that impelled consideration of a ruling of Reverse Domain Name Hijacking, despite the fact Mr. Glynn did not request it.

“[T]he Panel has a duty to consider and, if appropriate, make a ruling on whether the Complaint constitutes an abuse of the administrative proceeding,” Mr. Petillion wrote.

“[T]he Complainant had clear knowledge of the Respondent’s commercial identity corresponding to the Disputed Domain Name and the lack of bad faith by the Respondent,” he cited, in writing his reasoning behind issuing his RDNH verdict. “As a result, the Complainant clearly ought to have known it could not succeed under any fair interpretation of facts reasonably available prior to the filing of the Complaint.”

The RDNH ruling was handed up August 27, 2019.

Added October 4, 2020.
Source: https://www.wipo.int/amc/en/domains/search/text.jsp?case=D2019-1532

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