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 offered it 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
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.
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.
The supporters at RonPaul.org are represented by Booth Sweet LLP of Cambridge, MA.