This cybersquatting dispute is full of strange (and contradictory) circumstances.
Web 3.0 Technologies Foundation, the organization behind the Polkadot parachain platform, has won a cybersquatting lawsuit against the owner of polkadot.com.
Polkadot is a platform that allows cross-chain transactions. It currently uses the polkadot.network domain.
At first glance, it seems strange that a dictionary word like polkadot.com could be won in a UDRP cybersquatting case. It comes down to the intentions of the domain owner who acquired the domain after Polkadot existed. Still, there are many facts in dispute, and the decision gives me pause.
Panelist Warwick Rothnie noted:
“Polkadot” is an ordinary English word, but the website to which the disputed domain name resolves is not directed to the dictionary meaning of “polkadot” or the study or other activity related to “polkadot”.
It is undisputed that the domain resolves to a site on the blockchain platform. The current domain owner says he is loaning the domain to someone formerly affiliated with the complainant.
It’s a strange circumstance, and it gets even more complicated.
According to the complainant, he was negotiating to buy the domain for $600,000 in March 2021, but the domain was transferred to another party at the end of March. In early April, someone contacted one of Polkadot’s employees, offering to sell the domain for $77 million. The decision in the case says the plaintiff’s domain broker then contacted him and said the new owner was willing to sell it for $80 million. (I don’t know if it was the complainant’s broker or the broker who offered to sell the domain to him earlier.)
The current owner of the domain says he only acquired the domain in June 2021 and was not affiliated with previous offerings. It should be noted that the complainant did not provide proof of the previous offer.
The respondent told the panel that it was a non-profit organization that had never sold a domain. He said he acquired the domain through the 4.cn domain marketplace. However, Polkadot’s Whois record lists Hangzhou Midaizi Network Co., Ltd. as the holder and this has been verified by the domain registrar. It is the company that possesses 4.cn.
It is therefore a complicated matter and we do not know what is true. I think the balance comes down to how the domain was used after the acquisition. It’s good to register a dictionary word as a domain name. But you’re looking for trouble if you then use it in a directly trademarked way.