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article imageHow brand monitoring tools protect from reverse domain hijacking

This article is sponsored content produced by Threat Intelligence Platform (TIP)—a data, tool, and API provider that specializes in automated threat detection, security analysis, and threat intelligence solutions for Fortune 1000 and cybersecurity companies.
Two companies are going head-to-head over a cybersquatting issue related to the domain “sixthstreet.com.” TPG Sixth Street Partners, LLC, the complainant (an international investment and finance firm headquartered in Dallas, Texas), filed a cybersquatting complaint against real estate company Sixth Street Properties, LLC owner David Frieze.
The case investigation revealed that:
  • Frieze registered the domain sixthstreet.com in 2016. While he did not set up a website for the company, he does use the domain for his branded email address. He produced email correspondence with GoDaddy, the domain’s registrar, to prove ownership since 2016. He also produced documents showing his use of the domain for his email address as early as 7 January 2016, around the same time he incorporated his business entity.
  • However, the complainant said Frieze’s domain bears an undeniable similarity with the brand it applied a trademark for with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. As such, Frieze had no right (according to the complainant) to use the domain.
  • On the other hand, Frieze has already been using the domain for two-and-a-half years before the complainant filed for a trademark application. What’s more, Frieze already owned the domain a year before TPG Sixth Street Partners, LLC, tried to register it.
    In light of these facts, the administrators of the Uniform Domain-Name Dispute-Resolution Policy (UDRP) ruled in favor of the respondent Frieze. And unfortunately for the complainant, it was found guilty of abusing administrative proceedings and charged with reverse domain name hijacking.
    As this case shows, should your company find itself in the complainant’s shoes, it may be best to thoroughly investigate your claim before filing a case against any domain owner. There are brand monitoring tools that can help you build a strong cybersquatting case or inform you why building one may not be such a good idea.

    Our Investigative Tools: Domain Availability Check and Others

    Before accusing the defendant of foul play, the complainant could have done more due diligence first. A simple Domain Availability Check could have told the complainant back when it wanted to acquire sixthstreet.com that the domain was no longer available for registration.
    If the complainant needed more information, it could have done a WHOIS search to find out who owns the domain. Additionally, with the details in the domain’s WHOIS record, the complainant would’ve seen that it was in use even before its application for the brand to be trademarked.
    Doing so could have saved the complainant from the hassle of filing a UDRP complaint and eventually being found guilty of reverse domain hijacking.
    For his part, the defendant can use Brand Monitor to keep track of other potential claimants who may subject him to the same ordeal. He can simply input his domain into the tool to see a list of similar-looking domains. We saw at least 436 potential claimants. It may be a good idea to take a closer look at domains that are older than his. Their owners could accuse him of cybersquatting if they think doing so would benefit their own companies.
    If any of the domains in his brand monitoring list seem like potential future complainants, a domain owner can add them to Registrant Monitor as a precautionary measure. The tool would alert him of every registrant’s domain-related move.
    Often, using brand monitoring tools is enough to see whether online entities are indeed trying to take advantage of your trademarks and hard-earned reputation. More than that, however, using them can save you from wasting time, effort, and financial resources on a battle that you won’t win.
    About the author
    Jonathan Zhang is the founder and CEO of Threat Intelligence Platform (TIP)—a data, tool, and API provider that specializes in automated threat detection, security analysis, and threat intelligence solutions for Fortune 1000 and cybersecurity companies. TIP is part of the WhoisXML API Inc. family, a trusted intelligence vendor by over 50,000 clients.
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