WebSec Holdings, B.V. tries Plan B reverse domain name hijacking


Company filed cybersquatting complaint after trying to buy the domain name.

A World Intellectual Property Organization panel has determined that WebSec Holdings, B.V., a cybersecurity company in the Netherlands, attempted to reverse domain name hijack websec.com.

The domain owner acquired the domain in 2016 and created a web security site that has since gone dormant. He also adopted WebSec.com as a registered business name in North Carolina in 2017.

WebSec Holdings, B.V. wasn’t incorporated until 2020. It claimed to have used the mark dating to 2016 while doing business as OS.SI Consulting B.V., but the Respondent pointed out that this business entity wasn’t formed until 2019.

The company first tried to buy the domain name, offering $1,000, which it said was the fair market value for the domain. That’s less than what the Respondent said he acquired the domain for. He offered to sell it for $10,000.

Web Sec is also a common term short for Web Security.

These facts were enough for the three-person panel to deny the claim and find reverse domain name hijacking. The panel wrote:

The Panel concludes that the Complainant’s actions constitute Reverse Domain Name Hijacking for the following reasons:

i) the Complainant, which is represented by a lawyer, should have appreciated the weakness of its case in view of the fact that the disputed domain name was registered well before the Complainant acquired trademark rights on WEBSEC. In addition, a simple online search would have highlighted that the term “websec” encompassed in the disputed domain name cannot be exclusively referable to the Complainant, being used since years by several third parties offering information or services in the web security field;

ii) the Complainant provided false allegations in the Complaint. Indeed, the Complainant stated that “[i]n 2016, WebSec Holdings (at that time doing business as OS.SI Consulting B.V.) commenced operation. In 2020, WebSec Holdings, B.V. along with sister entity, WebSec B.V., commenced formal operations”. However, as demonstrated by the Respondent in annex B to the Response OS.SI Consulting was only established in January 2019 by another person than the owner of the Complainant, and was wound up already because it lacked activities on July 27, 2020 (i.e., a week before the Complainant was established). Moreover, the Complainant asserted that it had been using the trademark WEBSEC since 2016 in the European Union and subsequently in the United States since 2020 but did not submit any evidence of use to substantiate its allegations;

iii) the Complainant’s case appears to be based on the argument that the Respondent’s use of a common/descriptive domain name in connection with a currently inactive website – which in the past offered web security services independently of any awareness of the Complainant – and the offering the disputed domain name for sale amounts to evidence of bad faith. The Panel finds that the Complainant should have contemplated that it could not succeed with such an argument;

Solace Law represented WebSec Holdings, and John Berryhill represented the domain name owner.


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