Ron Paul has lost his appeal to expropriate the domain name RonPaul.com, and he was found guilty of "Reverse Domain Name Hijacking" for trying to have RonPaul.org seized, as the domain was offered to him for free before he filed a complaint.
Ron Paul committed “reverse domain name hijacking” when he sought control of the RonPaul.org domain name in bad faith, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) has ruled.RonPaul.com on the victory over RonPaul.com:
Ron Paul had filed a cybersquatting complaint with WIPO in early February 2013, calling on the UN agency to confiscate RonPaul.org from a group of long-standing grassroots supporters.
This week, WIPO rejected Ron Paul’s complaint, asserting that the supporters were running a political fan-site and thus had legitimate rights to the domain name.
Ron Paul had originally registered RonPaul.org in 1999 but lost control of the domain name in August 2012 after failing to pay the annual renewal fee. His supporters quickly secured RonPaul.org to keep it in the Ron Paul community, and they offered the domain name to Ron Paul as a free gift in January 2013.
Instead of accepting the gift, Ron Paul filed a complaint with WIPO asking it to confiscate the domain name.
In his complaint, Ron Paul willfully misrepresented his supporters’ offer, alleging that they would give him RonPaul.org only if he paid them $250,000 for a different domain name, RonPaul.com. That claim was easily disproved by the letter Ron Paul submitted as evidence: his supporters’ offer clearly stated that RonPaul.org was a free, unconditional gift with no strings attached.
Ron Paul also wrongly alleged that his supporters had tried to sell him RonPaul.org back in 2010, at a time when he still owned the domain himself.
After rejecting Ron Paul’s complaint, WIPO went on to assert that an attempt of “Reverse Domain Name Hijacking” had taken place:
Reverse Domain Name Hijacking Ron Paul’s supporters are puzzled as to why Ron Paul decided to use WIPO, a UN agency, in an attempt to confiscate the domain name instead of simply accepting it as a free gift. “We’re expecting to wake up any minute now and find out that this was all a big misunderstanding”, said Tim Martin of RonPaul.org.
Respondent has requested, based on the evidence presented, that the Panel make a finding of Reverse Domain Name Hijacking. In view of the unique facts of this case, in which the evidence demonstrates that Respondent offered to give the Domain Name to Complainant for no charge, with no strings attached, the Panel is inclined to agree. Instead of accepting the Domain Name, Complainant brought this proceeding. A finding of Reverse Domain Name Hijacking seems to this Panel to be appropriate in the circumstances.
The supporters at RonPaul.org are represented by Booth Sweet LLP of Cambridge, MA.
Download the Decision (PDF)
The domain name RonPaul.com will remain with a group of dedicated grassroots supporters, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) has decided.This was a stupid case from the beginning, not just philosophically, their filing itself was filled with half-truths and outright lies. Fortunately, the monopolist "authorities" made what I believe to be the right decision in this case, many others who've had their domain names seized under similar circumstances haven't been so fortunate.
Ron Paul had filed a cybersquatting complaint in early February 2013, calling on the UN agency to expropriate RonPaul.com from his supporters. This week, WIPO rejected Ron Paul’s complaint, ruling that his supporters were running a political fan-site and thus had legitimate rights to the domain name.
RonPaul.com was created in 2008 as a fan-site in support of Ron Paul and his ideas. Over the years, the supporters running the site invested more than $100,000 into the website and its operations. They helped raise millions of dollars for Ron Paul’s presidential campaigns and received several thank-you notes from Ron Paul’s associates and staff members. But in January 2013, shortly after retiring from Congress, Ron Paul expressed regret over not owning RonPaul.com. He went on to file a complaint with WIPO asking it to confiscate the domain name from his supporters without compensation.
In his complaint, Ron Paul mischaracterized his supporters’ efforts, alleging that the website was a sham created only to sell merchandise. That claim was easily disproved by the thank-you notes the supporters had received from Ron Paul’s associates. Ron Paul also claimed that the supporters had only bought RonPaul.com so they could one day sell it to him at an exorbitant price. The evidence showed the opposite: The supporters had sacrificed everything and put five years of hard work into the website out of admiration and support of Ron Paul.
It is not known why Ron Paul decided to use WIPO, a UN agency, in an attempt to confiscate the domain name instead of simply asking his supporters to donate it to him. In a March 19 interview with TIME, Ron Paul supporter Tim Martin stated that the supporters at RonPaul.com would have handed over the domain name for free if they felt Paul had shown that “he honors and appreciates our hard work and support.”
After the decision was announced, Martin said, “We’re glad to put this traumatic experience behind us. Our team of liberty lovers will continue to promote and advance Ron Paul’s message of liberty, prosperity and peace at RonPaul.com and all over the Internet.”
The supporters at RonPaul.com are represented by Booth Sweet LLP of Cambridge, MA.
Download the Decision (PDF)