SalesForce.com attempts to hijack Forces.com by filing domain dispute

Marc Benioff Salesforce.com

Earlier this month, SalesForce.com filed a complaint (Case No. 1416951) with the National Arbitration Forum against Internet Venture Holdings (IVH) over the domain Forces.com.

While complainants in disputes filed with the National Arbitration Forum aren’t revealed until a panel delivers a decision, I contacted IVH to see if my suspicions were correct “that Salesforce.com was behind the complaint” and an IVH representative confirmed via e-mail that, indeed, Salesforce.com was the complainant.

What’s interesting about this case – and this isn’t unheard of – is that Salesforce.com not only has a good chance of losing the dispute, but it may face a claim of “reverse domain hijacking”.

If the software giant loses the dispute and IVH contends that Salesforce.com engaged in ‘reverse domain hijacking’, Salesforce.com could be labeled a “reverse hijacker” by the presiding panel.  “Reverse domain hijacking” is found if the company knew or should have known at the time that it filed the complaint, that it could not prove that forces.com was registered in bad faith. 

Though Salesforce.com has publicly acquired domain names in the past for large sums of money such as the purchase of Data.com for over $1.5 million, it doesn’t mean the company won’t bully smaller companies into giving up their domains if it doesn’t feel like paying the seller’s asking price.

Unfortunately, a finding of reverse domain hijacking likely won’t mean much punishment in terms of the Uniform Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP).

According to sources online:

The Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act does not expressly recognize reverse domain name hijacking and often only limits defendants’ recovery to retention or transference of the domain name. It also fails to provide any remedies for victims of attempted reverse cybersquatting. However, the statute permits some monetary relief where bad faith, reckless disregard or the willful violation of a court order are involved.

However, if Salesforce.com decides it still wants to acquire the domain after being labeled a “reverse hijacker”, the ball will definitely be in IVH’s court, who own hundreds of other prized, generic domains like Coast.com and Turquoise.com.

Even if Salesforce.com loses the dispute (which it should) and somehow avoids the hijacking label, I don’t see this ending well for Salesforce.com.

(Photo of Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce.com via Flickr)

3 comments
Dave Zan
Dave Zan

"they have the very right to defend their brand." Indeed they do. What they don't have is the so-called right to take some domain name remotely resembling their trademark just because they have one, especially if online users aren't likely to confuse that with them. If IVH were inclined, they actually could file a lawsuit against SalesForce for attempted reverse hijacking. 

Stephen
Stephen

How can Forces.com be a premium domain? They valued the name based on the fact that Salesforce owns Force.com and because of that, its ridiculous. If Salesforce didn’t own Force.com, their domain would be worthless. I hope Salesforce prevails in this case as they have the very right to defend their brand.