Herbalife has spent more than two years defending itself against pyramid scheme allegations raised by activist investor Bill Ackman, and part of that defense is a battle of the web domains. The nutritional supplements company bought about 30 different web domains with variations of Ackman’s name. The purchases were no doubt made to counter the FactsAboutHerbalife.com domain purchased by Ackman’s firm, Pershing Square Capital Management.
Herbalife buys Ackman websites
David Benoit of The Wall Street Journal reports that one of the web domains purchased by Herbalife was BillAckmanLies.com. Others include TheRealBillAckman.com, AckmanHerbalife.com, AckmanLies.com and others. Herbalife also snapped up the .net, .biz and .info versions of many of these web domains, according to DomainNames.com, in January 2013.
That was about a month after Ackman launched his PR campaign alleging that Herbalife is a pyramid scheme. His firm had purchased FactsAboutHerbalife.com, on which it frequently publishes reports about the multi-level marketing company. Herbalife has repeatedly denied Ackman’s pyramid scheme allegations.
Herbalife tries to protect itself
The domains that have Herbalife’s name in them, like AckmanHerbalife.com, reportedly redirect the visitor to Herbalife’s Investor Relations page. The other domains are dead, but Herbalife wants to own them in order to keep Ackman or anyone else from buying them and putting up another negative website about it. Records indicate that Herbalife purchased the domains in January 2013 and extended them in 2014. The company’s ownership of them now expires in 2017.
It’s a pretty common practice for companies to buy web domains relating to their names or the names of their executives. They tend to buy names that would otherwise be embarrassing if the wrong party was allowed to purchase them. According to Benoit, Herbalife’s tactic of buying web domains with the name of its biggest detractor in them is much less common of a practice.
The fight between Herbalife and Ackman will probably continue for some time, particularly because of the investigations that are going on. Multiple investigations are going on, with Herbalife’s business model being examined and some consultants hired by Ackman’s firm being interviewed in connection with the possibility of alleged market manipulation. No one has been accused of any wrongdoing.
As of this writing, shares of Herbalife were down 2.13% to $43.74 per share.