Cybersquatting Case Law: Warehousing Domains
Programmer Buys Domain In The 1990s; Startup Wants It In 2014.
Sixteen years ago, a London-based programmer, Jason Kneen, purchased the domain workbetter.com.
Fast forward to 2014. According to reports, Kneen was contacted by Harsh Mehta, the entrepreneur behind OfficeLinks; he wants to buy workbetter.com. To promote his company, Mehta had already bought workbetter.us and was looking to obtain the higher-profile .com domain. The OfficeLinks co-founder offered Kneen $500, but for various reasons, the programmer ultimately turned down the deal.
After negotiations stalled, in April 2014, Mehta filed an intent-to-use trademark application for the phrase “Work Better.” Then, in June, Kneen caught wind that someone was trying to do a domain transfer on the URL. Turns out the would-be domain interloper was, as Mehta would later explain, one of his “over-zealous” employees. Whatever the case, at the time, Mehta and Kneen appeared to have “made up” on social media.
Startup Files Cybersquatting Lawsuit Over “Warehoused” Domains
Later in the same month, DomainNameWire contacted Kneen, which is allegedly how he learned OfficeLinks was suing him for cybersquatting. Apparently, as a result of the lawsuit, Kneen’s domain name provider locked the URL during proceedings.
In a public statement, Mehta explained his position:
“This is a dispute between a company that is trying to protect its trademark, and make genuine use of it, and an ideology that entitles individuals (and businesses, including Jason Kneen’s) to hijack existing and prospective trademark registrations for $18/year.”
Interesting Case; Tough Call
This domain dispute is worth following for a couple of reasons.
- Both parties are fairly well-known in the tech and startup communities.
- It’s easy to see both parties’ points.
As John Biggs on Tech Crunch eloquently explains: At this point, on July 3, the domain is still in limbo with Kneen refusing to sell and Mehta’s lawsuit hanging over Kneen. The unfortunate thing about the case is that both parties are Internet natives and, Mehta especially, part of the startup ecosystem. While cybersquatting situations are frustrating, this is not the case of someone trying to grab Sony.com in the early days of the Internet. Kneen decided he didn’t want to sell and Mehta, in short, is using the legal system to ensure an outcome beneficial to himself.
Got Questions About Cybersquatting Cases? Consult A Domain Dispute Lawyer.
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Kelly Warner’s domain dispute lawyers have successfully handled all manners of cybersquatting cases. We’re aware of all the trap doors and potential sink holes parties can encounter when pursuing domain claims.