In a wake up call to any party initiating UDRP proceedings, without having considered which court may have jurisdiction in the event that such proceedings are challenged, a $126,830 judgment has been made against the City of Paris after it failed to defend US proceedings for reverse domain name hijacking.

On 29 September 2012, the City of Paris (as in the French capital city) lost a US court case in which the plaintiff (a US citizen) successfully challenged a WIPO Administrative Panel decision that had ordered the transfer of the domain name from the plaintiff to the city (following an ICANN UDRP complaint initiated by Paris).

The size of the award against the city has raised a few eyebrows ($100,000 damages and $26,830 costs) but the main lesson in the case is for parties to consider jurisdiction before initiating a UDRP complaint.

The claim against the city was for reverse domain name hijacking (i.e. evicting a legitimate domain name holder on the basis of rights you don't actually have) and Paris lost because the city refused to defend the proceedings (resulting in default judgment being awarded against it).

The interesting jurisdictional point, which parties should bare in mind, is that by initiating the UDRP proceedings, Paris was caught by the ICANN rule that allows a domain name registrant that loses Administrative Proceedings to challenge the Administrative Panel's decision by filing a lawsuit in certain courts (Para 4(k) of the ICANN UDRP Policy) - such courts being the courts at the location of either (a) the principal office of the Registrar or (b) the domain name holder's address (as shown on the Registrar's Whois database).

The jurisdiction of the lawsuit seemingly didn't suit Paris (as surmised from the fact that they didn't turn up to court). One can only question whether they assessed the risk of being dragged to court in the US if the domain name registrant chose to challenge the Administrative Panel's decision in the original UDRP complaint. If not, it's a safe bet that they will assess this risk next time.

Any party that initiates UDRP proceedings should be aware of which court may have jurisdiction in the event that an Administrative Panel's award is challenged. If a potential challenge is subject to a particularly unfavourable jurisdiction, the risk of the proceedings being challenged in court should be considered. Edwards Wildman's lawyers frequently provide tailored and strategic advice responding appropriately to the different abuses encountered by rights holders online, including guiding clients through UDRP proceedings.

You can see the default judgment here:

You can see the Administrative Panel's decision here: