October 20, 2006

Domain hijacking on the rise?

Is this a rare case of domain name hijacking, or does it hide a general trend? A French firm was recently the victim of such hijacking.

This French company specializing in providing online content for adults lost its name explicite.com during the summer. Because it was more urgent to get the name back rather than investigating to know where to find the thief, it launched UDRP proceedings. A NAF panel just ruled in favor of the plaintiff (788274).

The Complainant summarized the facts as follows: "On July 20, 2006, Complainant became aware of security issues with its GoDaddy.com account, and then realized that the account had been broken into and that the domain name had been hijacked and transferred to a different domain name registrar with different registrant, administrative and technical contacts".
Was it really a case of hijacking? To the panel, "[w]hile it is difficult ... to establish precisely how Respondent came to register the disputed domain name, it seems clear from the record that the registration occurred without Complainant’s consent and may have involved an illegal transfer of the domain name. Because Respondent has failed to respond to this dispute, the Panel assumes that Complainant’s assertion that the disputed domain name was hijacked is accurate." This means that the Respondent did not have legitimate rights or interests in the name.
As for bad faith, the panel finds: "A reasonable inference from the record is that Respondent hijacked the explicite.com domain name from Complainant without Complainant’s permission."

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