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NAF could use a proofreader – Published Panelist Findings contradict Decision

2015 July 29
by Nat

In the decision, issued July 16th, sole panelist Houston Putnam Lowry denied the Complaint finding that the domain owner had a legitimate interest in the domain and had not acted in bad faith.

Yet the summary Findings section in the published decision tells a different story:

(1) the domain name registered by Respondent is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which Complainant has rights; and
(2) Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the domain name; and
(3) the domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.

springwoodsrealty-decision(Emphasis added.)

The summary Findings section directly contradicts the actual findings by Panelist Lowry, and if accurate would have required the transfer of the domain name.  Was it mere sloppiness?  Did an assistant mistakenly copy and paste a findings section from an earlier decision where the domain name was ordered transferred?  What is clear is that no one bothers to proofread decisions for obvious errors before they are published in the public record.

This continues a long string of sloppiness in NAF published decisions.   Back in November 2013, I wrote about the common practice of NAF panels citing the same ancient, irrelevant decisions when denying a finding of Reverse Domain Name Hijacking, as in the decision.  Over a year and half later, NAF panels continue to routinely cite a 14-year-old case where the domain name was ordered transferred as justification for not finding RDNH where the complaint is denied.  Here is part of the rationale for denying a finding of RDNH in the decision of July 20th in which the complaint was denied:

See World Wrestling Fed’n Entm’t, Inc. v. Ringside Collectibles, D2000-1306 (WIPO Jan. 24, 2001) (“Because Complainant has satisfied [all of] the elements of the Policy, Respondent’s allegation of reverse domain name hijacking must fail”)

The reasoning in these decisions is absurd as of course there would be no finding of RDNH when the Complainant wins, but that carries no weight in a case where the Complainant loses.   That NAF continues to publish decisions with this absurd logic after having been alerted to the problem over a year and a half ago indicates a troubling lack of any quality control.

Attorney Zak Muscovitch conducted a study in 2010 showing that NAF’s assignment of panelists was far from random with a high concentration of cases assigned to just 10 panelists.  When Muscovitch updated the study two years later, he found:

every single other Panelist was appointed to markedly more UDRP cases on average per year and per month as compared to the previous report. This suggests that’s Original Study did not impact the NAF’s practice of concentrating UDRP disputes among a handful of Panelists.

George Kirikos has previously documented NAF’s habit of issuing embarrassing copy and paste decisions.  Shoddy practices is part of the reason why the ICA has called for an investigation of the NAF.

When an organization is entrusted with the responsibility and the power to order the transfer of valuable assets and to damage a person’s livelihood, it is disconcerted when it operates in such a sloppy manner.  How much of the sloppiness that is evident in the published decisions pervades the entire organization?

Everyone makes mistakes.  When a well-run organization makes mistakes and those mistakes are pointed out, the mistakes are fixed.  The NAF persists in making the same mistakes over and over.


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