ReaganBabe : Interview with political commentator Megan Barth, on domain rebranding after a UDRP loss

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Ms. Megan Barth – ReaganBabe.com

In February, we covered the loss of the domain ReaganBaby.com via the UDRP process.

Megan Barth, a nationally recognized political commentator, lost her domain of 10 years, which she had built into an active brand, to The Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute.

Ms. Barth did not respond to the UDRP, in a case that could have been “easily defended,” according to an IP attorney that reviewed the case recently.

Unfortunately, Ms. Barth was made aware of the issues related to her domain, only after everything had been decided at the National Arbitration Forum; by then, it was too late.

After Ms. Barth lost control of ReaganBaby.com, she switched to the domain ReaganBabe.com, moving her platform and content to the new brand.

At the time, we assumed that this move was a hasty decision, and questioned its ability to serve as a viable domain rebranding solution.

There was a lot of important information we weren’t aware of, however.

Ms. Barth reached out, and shared with us a plethora of detailed information on what occurred behind the scenes; in this interview, this information is shared with the public for the first time.

DomainGang : Ms. Barth, what was the reason you chose to use REAGAN BABY as your brand and matching web site, ReaganBaby.com ?

Megan Barth : I was always referred to as a ReaganBaby by my mom.  Ten years ago, as I was searching for domains, I found that this domain was available and purchased it. I didn’t launch the web site until two years ago, when I was able to focus on my writing and conservative commentary.

DomainGang : Naturally, you tried to trademark REAGAN BABY at the USPTO, but it was opposed by The Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute. At the time of the trademark application opposition, was the domain name brought up as an issue?

Megan Barth : No. The domain wasn’t an issue until mid December 2016. I was granted the trademark by the USPTO in mid 2015, a challenge was filed to the trademark by the Reagan Legacy Foundation and multiple discussions via email and phone, between myself and the lawyers, commenced.

Not once did they ask me to abandon my domain – just my trademark.  I complied and abandoned my fight for the trademark and removed all trademark references from my brand and related images.

DomainGang : How long after the trademark application cancellation were you contacted about the domain? What were you asked to comply with?

Megan Barth : Approximately 15 months later in mid December 2016. I was contacted by the same lawyer I had talked to on multiple occasions in 2015. When he had called me in December 2016 and asked that I abandon the domain, I asked him to put his request in writing and the reasons for his request and asked that we talk after the holidays.

I never received a response to my request related to their new request and challenge to abandon my domain.

It was not until my domain went down, on February 24th, 2017, that I found out GoDaddy transferred my property to the legal firm representing the Reagan Legacy Foundation.

GoDaddy had confirmed that they had a judge’s order related to the UDRP process.  When I found your article while researching this process and my domain, I was only then made aware of the UDRP process by which they used to seize my domain and brand.

DomainGang : Why was there no response by you to the UDRP?

Megan Barth : Although I had numerous phone calls and emails with the legal firm representing the foundation in 2015 and another call in December 2016, the firm used a 10 year old, defunct email address associated with the WHOIS.

I had always updated my contact information with GoDaddy and my contact information was current and active on my ReaganBaby.com domain.

Note : Ms. Barth is referring to the contact information linked to her account with GoDaddy. She was not contacted at that email address, as she had anticipated.

Megan Barth : According to the UDRP procedure, if the domain that is being challenged is active, they must attempt to contact me through the Contact active domain.  Here are the specific procedural rules that govern the arbitration and were not followed.

In particular, the rules state as follows:

C) if the domain name (or “www.” followed by the domain name) resolves to an active web page (other than a generic page the Provider concludes is maintained by a registrar or ISP for parking domain-names registered by multiple domain-name holders), any e-mail address shown or e-mail links on that web page; and

(iii) sending the complaint, including any annexes, to any e-mail address the Respondent has notified the Provider it prefers and, to the extent practicable, to all other e-mail addresses provided to the Provider by Complainant under Paragraph 3(b)(v).

The Reagan Legacy Foundation did not follow this procedure.

DomainGang : When did you find out the domain was taken away? Was your web site active and functional the whole time the UDRP was been processed?

Megan Barth : I was made aware on February 24, 2017 when I could not access my domain.  My web site was active and functional for two years prior to and during the UDRP process, which was initiated and occurred between Dec. 29, 2016 and Feb 8, 2017.

DomainGang : Did you communicate the issue with the Registrar (GoDaddy) after the domain was removed from your ownership, and what was their response?

Megan Barth : I had immediately contacted GoDaddy to find out why my domain could not be found and they indicated that my ownership had been transferred to the legal firm representing the Reagan Legacy Foundation via the UDRP process.

Without legal representation, they would not offer me any additional information and said that they would need a judge’s order to return my property.

DomainGang : Is the current domain rebranding to ReaganBabe.com a demonstration of defending your freedom of speech rights? Do you anticipate any issues by it?

Megan Barth : Yes it is.  There are numerous active websites with “Reagan” in the domain.  For example, TheReaganBattalion.com is also a political commentary/news website featuring a variety of national pundits and writers. The domain remains standing and is active on social media. The battalion is mainly comprised of “NeverTrump” conservatives. Perhaps their message and speech is in line with The Reagan Legacy Foundation as Michael Reagan, the president of the foundation, was also a national voice in the Never Trump movement during the primaries and up until the election.

Prior to my rebranding effort, I consulted with an attorney who gave me the green light to proceed with the domain ReaganBabe.com.  My new domain does acknowledge that I am not associated with or speak on behalf of the Reagan Legacy Foundation.

However, to fight for ReaganBaby.com would be a long and expensive undertaking in the federal court system.  In order to immediately salvage my brand and maintain my identity, I chose ReaganBabe and ReaganBabe.com, as it is an evolution from ReaganBaby and an easy transition for my national audience.

I cannot, however, have any traffic from ReaganBaby.com, or my past links, redirected to my new domain without a judge’s order.

DomainGang : Is there any advice you’d like to give to brand owners regarding how they approach similar issues with their domains and brands?

Megan Barth : Yes.  Please learn from my experience and know that your WHOIS information is not automatically updated when you update your GoDaddy account information.

If you hold multiple domains and you move or change email addresses, you must select each domain in your WHOIS profile and update each domain with your new contact information.

Secondly, in this political climate, free speech is under attack.

Those who do not agree with you will use many different methods to silence you, yet there are laws and procedures in your favor should you have the time and funds to defend your rights and your property.

DomainGang : Megan, many thanks for sharing this valuable information with us. As unfortunate as it is to lose the ReaganBaby.com domain, we wish you all the best, going forward with the rebranding, at ReaganBabe.com.


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