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Domain Name Proxy Service Not Inherently Evil

In the recent court decision of CyBerCorp Holding v. Allman case, although the registrant of the domain name ‘cybertraderlive.com’ did lose the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP) case and was found to have acted in bad faith (having been a former customer of complainant), the decision is noteworthy as it finds that registrant’s use of proxy service to keep contact information private, in and of itself is not evidence of bad faith, given that there are good faith reasons for wanting to keep one’s ‘Whois’ data private:

“Respondent registered the at-issue domain name via a proxy service through registrar Go-Daddy. By using the service, the proxy’s contact information, rather than the registrant-in-fact’s contact information appears on the registration record. Complainant argues that the use of a proxy registrant is a per se indicator of bad faith. This Panel disagrees. There are numerous benign reasons why one would want to buffer one’s identity or have another control a domain name by using an agent or proxy.

Third parties wanting to direct soliciting mail and email, wanting to defraud domain name owners into changing registrars or to otherwise defraud registrants into transferring their domain name, have used publicly available WHOIS contact information to reach their victims. Often ISPs, web presence providers, web designers or other agents of the principal registrant register a domain name in their own name so that they may maintain control over the domain name or manage the domain name and its related Internet objects for the real registrant-in-interest. Categorically ascribing foul intent to all those using a proxy registrant or proxy service, is simply speculation. Similarly, failing to list contact information on a website may be for innoxious reasons. Notably, in the instant case the real registrant-in-interest was identified, contacted, and thereafter responded to the complaint.

Nevertheless, Respondent is using the at-issue domain name to reference a website that offers financial services similar to Complainant’s services. According to Complainant, Respondent had an account with Complainant prior to registering the at-issue domain name and was thus aware of Complainant’s trademark use of CYBERTRADER. Respondent is clearly a competitor of Complainant. Therefore, Respondent appears to have registered and used the domain name to disrupt the business of a competitor…”

The panel appears to give weight to what I am told by complainant’s counsel is the erroneous fact that registrant’s true identity was easily ascertainable.

By Martin Schwimmer, Attorney

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