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Singapore High Court dismisses cybersquatter's lawsuit against Grab unit

Singapore High Court dismisses cybersquatter's lawsuit against Grab unit

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3 -min read
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THE Singapore High Court has dismissed a lawsuit by management consultancy 3 Corporate Services against Grabtaxi Holdings, a unit of Grab, over a dispute involving 3 Corporate’s attempt to sell a domain name to the super-app player.

In a written judgement issued on Wednesday, Senior Judge Lai Siu Chiu also deemed that 3 Corporate had engaged in “cybersquatting”, or “the deliberate, bad faith abusive registration of domain names in violation of rights in trademarks and service marks”, as defined in a World Intellectual Property Organization report.

Cybersquatters are typically known to register, or “squat on” popular domain names with the sole intention to sell them in future for exorbitant prices. There is no statutory definition of cybersquatting in Singapore.

In July 2017, Ho Qiyang Mark, the sole shareholder of 3 Corporate, had offered to sell the domain name “grab.co.id” to Grabtaxi for US$250,000. In its lawsuit, 3 Corporate alleged that Grabtaxi had later reneged on an agreement to buy over the domain name. 

Mr Ho also owns 50 per cent of Top3 Media, a Singapore-based domain registrar that also designs and develops websites. The remainder of Top3 is owned by Mr Ho’s younger brother. 

In its defence, Grabtaxi cited how it had discovered that 3 Corporate and Top3 had registered more than 1,000 domain names, such as “www.gojek.com.sg”, “www.toyotaharrier.com.sg”, “www.ubereats.com.sg” and “www.amyswinehouse.com”. 

Given its concerns, in September 2017, Grabtaxi decided not to proceed with the purchase. 

In February 2018, 3 Corporate filed a lawsuit against Grabtaxi seeking a declaration that there is a binding contract between 3 Corporate and Grabtaxi for the transfer of the domain name, and that Grabtaxi had breached the contract. 3 Corporate also sought for Grab to pay the US$250,000. 

However, in her judgement, Senior Judge Lai said that it does not seem possible for 3 Corporate to enforce the offer letter. In addition, Senior Judge Lai said that she is not satisfied that 3 Corporate has sufficiently proved that it has suffered any loss. 

In determining if 3 Corporate is a “cybersquatter”,  Senior Judge Lai noted that 3 Corporate’s use of the domain name “has all the markings of bad faith and the insignia of cybersquatting”, given the “indiscriminate registration of generic and non-generic domain names” by Mr Ho, 3 Corporate and other related parties. 

As such, 3 Corporate has failed to prove that it is not a cybersquatter and “is not precluded by public policy considerations from enforcing the offer letter”, Senior Judge Lai noted.