Early this year Ron Paul decided to ignore the free-market principles he usually advocates and attempted to seize the domain names RonPaul.com and RonPaul.org from their current owners. The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), the organization Ron Paul filed his complaint with, not only agreed that the current owners of RonPaul.com and RonPaul.org should be allowed to maintain their ownership but the organization also found Mr. Paul guilty of reverse domain name hijacking:
The owners had offered to sell RonPaul.com to Paul but also offered to give him RonPaul.org as an alternative if Paul didn’t want to buy the .com. Since Paul filed a UDRP against RonPaul.org after the owner offered to give it to him for free, the panel found the case to be reverse domain name hijacking.
Respondent has requested, based on the evidence presented, that the Panel make a finding of Reverse Domain Name Hijacking. In view of the unique facts of this case, in which the evidence demonstrates that Respondent offered to give the Domain Name ronpaul.org to Complainant for no charge, with no strings attached, the Panel is inclined to agree. Instead of accepting the Domain Name, Complainant brought this proceeding. A finding of Reverse Domain Name Hijacking seems to this Panel to be appropriate in the circumstances.
The panel did not find reverse domain name hijacking in the RonPaul.com case (pdf), but determined that Paul did not prove a lack of rights or legitimate interest in the domain by the respondent. As a result, the panel ruled the domain name should remain with its current owner.
Libertarian ethics usually grants property ownership to the first claimant. If you come across a piece of land that isn’t in use and hasn’t been “improved” by somebody you can mix your labor with the land to claim it as your own. Since Mr. Paul is a strong advocate of libertarianism it’s rather ironic that he decided to make an attempt to grab RonPaul.com and RonPaul.org from the first claimants. Free-market principles would state that Mr. Paul should have purchased the domain names for the asking price or negotiated a more favorable price. I commend the WIPO for ruling in favor of the current holders instead of the more famous individual.