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California restaurant chain fights over domain name

Cafe fights marketing firm for domain name.

A picture of a loaf of sourdough with the words "A Sour Lawsuit"

A California restaurant chain has gone to court to try to recover a domain name that it says it rightfully owns.

West Coast Sourdough filed an in rem lawsuit (pdf) in Federal District Court in Virginia on Thursday to try to get the domain name WestCoastSourdough .com.

According to the restaurant chain, the domain was registered on its behalf on January 7. The Plaintiff says that it subsequently engaged with  James Terry and Sacramento Connected for social media marketing website design and development services. The restaurant alleges that those parties “fraudulently induced Plaintiff to authorize Sacramento Connected to turn over control of the

Historical Whois records at DomainTools show that the domain was registered to someone in India on January 7. It has been under Whois privacy since at least April.

I suspect the plaintiffs chose a lawsuit instead of UDRP because the restaurant chain first used the mark earlier this year and might have difficulty showing that the domain was registered in bad faith given the timeline. A UDRP panel might also view it as a contractual dispute not fit for UDRP.

It does seem a bit odd that this dispute would proceed as an in rem lawsuit. The suit is against John Does, but the complaint makes it clear who the Plaintiff believes has taken over control of the domain.

In the meantime, the restaurant chain has been relegated to using the matching .net domain.


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