I have had the domain name for 4 years. A company recently registered (with the Little "R" by their name) and then immediately slapped me with a complaint through ICANN. They never bothered to warn me.
Now I am supposed to pony up money for mediation. I do NOT even want the domain name!
I cannot dis-own the name, because if there is a dispute, there is a lock on doing anything with it.
Does anyone have any experience with this? I need info. I want to just default on the complaint.
But I have no idea what will happen if I do not go through mediation and just default.
Please Help! EarleeBird
This is a VERY complex issue and it can't and won't really be distilled in my response @EarleeBird. I am additionally and my advice tends to be practical and not based off of legal precedence. This is one of many posts as of late about domains and trademarks, I'm wondering if this is a trend?
In your case I think there is money to be made? No one expects you to just give them a domain? If they would like to purchase it you should absolutely sell it. I'll give you a example (the names have been changed). I had a client named Peyton who had a local coffee shop in Anytown, USA and went by Peyton's Coffee. She was registered with the state as Peyton's Coffee and had been in business for five years before she came to me for a website and ecommerce solution. Naturally the first domain i considered was peytoncoffee.com but it was already a business in Anothertown, USA registered by their state a Peyton's Coffee and Bakery with that domain. I made a quick inquiry about that domain but not too much of a deal as there were other alternatives.
I was able to get what I thought was a better domain anytowncoffee.com, Peyton and I both felt that was a better fit because of her local focus. For years Peyton ran her website on anytowncoffee.com and had it on her business cards, shirts, banners, advertising... Six years after establishing her domain and website a new company formed in Peyton's backyard also located in Anytown, USA calling themselves Anytown Coffee and registering with the state as Anytown Coffee. Seeing that Peyton and Peyton's Coffee already had anytowncoffee.com they sent us a letter probably very much like the one you received?
My initial response was laughter but that is okay. Over the years the Peyton's Coffee and Bakery went out of business or otherwise dessolved and I also acquired the peytonscoffee.com domain for my client but primarily she utilized the anytowncoffee.com domain. We went to mediation (by we I mean my client and I), attempting to come to resolution. It is important to note that mediation is to help the litigants come to understand each other’s viewpoint regarding the controversy and then facilitate the negotiation of a voluntary resolution to the case. The purpose of mediation is to avoid the time and expense of further litigation by settling a lawsuit early on in the process. In a mediation there is not necessarily a agreement reached between two parties and further legal action may be required. In most mediations, you don't need a lawyer's direct participation. People who are mediating are less likely to need an advocate because they are trying to work together to solve their problem, typically legal arguments are not made. Because mediation rules are few and straightforward, people can usually handle the process on your own without too much trouble?
I have actually been through my share of these and have never been to court after mediation. In my experience these things just end in agreements depending on what the paticipants come in looking for. In my anytowncoffee.com example mediation, we went into mediation having had the domain appraised for value. Check out GoDaddy Domain Appraisals: A new domain valuation tool article from the Garage by the way. I'm in love with the new GoDaddy Domain Name Value & Appraisal tool! Having the appraisal, registration information (length) and additional information on things like merchandise, signage, media... Helped us establish a value. My client was happy to accept the amount her and I had come up with to give up the domain.
The complainant was unwilling to agree to our terms so we left mediation with the anytowncoffee.com domain and didn't hear from them about the domain again.
Typically the process is TM before R, there is a difference between TM (Trademark), R (Registered), and C (Copyright)? I don't see the harm in going to mediation with demands, you do have costs associated with your domain even if it is only the money you paid to register it? A reply something like "I am more than willing to relinquish this domain for compensation." might do the trick?
Courts have held that activities were likely to constitute trademark infringement because they were likely to confuse the public about the source or sponsorship of a web site as well. But those are cases where Anytown Coffee are trying to get anytowncoffee.com If the company is Bob's Fruit and you have goodfruit.com I don't know if that is the same?
I don't know the specifics about your domain @EarleeBird but I don't see anything wrong with walking into a mediation and attempting to come to an agreement? Does that helps at all?
roy darling *my posts seem a lot shorter in my head
I VERY MUCH appreciate that you replied!
I belonged to a MLM company. 4 years ago, I created a personal website to advertise the products and get customers to me. Because I did my homework, some of my pages (not my homepage, though) ranked #1 on google searches.
This MLM company decided to harass any of the websites associated with them. I believe because the FDA went after the company. Not sure.
First they went after me about my content. I ignored them. Once they registered their product images, then they went after me again, and GoDaddy told me they would shut my website down, so I fixed all the images.
Now, they have their company name registered, they think they have a legal right to come after me again for my domain name, which had their newly-registered company name in it for the past 4 years. They NEVER informed me they were filing a complaint. If they had, I would have complied.
This has gone immediately to a mediation company of lawyers, who do this for a living to make a buck. I do not want to respond to this forum/company, that would validate that there is a dispute, but there is not. The first thing they want is money.
I really want to know if anyone with experience with this, can tell me what will happen if I never respond. It is legally called "default". The only thing I care about is not paying any money.
If I default, I lose the case. So what? I will happily give up the domain name.
I have just recently tried to contact them about this non-dispute, but no response.
I don't think it would be held that abcMLManytown.com is in violation to the trademark of ABC MLM Inc. if abcMLManytown.com had already been in existence before either the incorporation or registration of ABC MLM Inc. If there are a frenzy of shark lawyers at your feet they probably won't be satisfied until they at least get one chunk? There is no guarantee that relinquishing the domain would absolve you from some monetary compensation from lawyer fees or something? Just giving up the domain might actually suggest that you are somehow liable for damages.
This seems to have been going on for awhile and I'd advise that you best only complete this through official means like mediation or arbitration. You have already admitted some liability since you removed content by replacing images. Please go through official means to handle this. Perhaps inquire about free legal services or advice in your area. There are often advocates that are willing to help with things like this. Best of luck! Please come back and let us know how this all turns out.
roy darling *my posts seem a lot shorter in my head