UDRP

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The Uniform Domain-Name Dispute Resolution Policy, or UDRP, is a set of guidelines used by ICANN to resolve disputes regarding the registration of domain names.

The UDRP was adopted on August 26th, 1999. Additionally, a set of Rules for Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP Rules) were approved by ICANN on October 30th, 2009, followed by Supplemental Rules for the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy, which entered into effect on December 14th, 2009.[1]

Overview

The UDRP are policies which apply in case of various disputes between registrants and third parties as a result of the registration and use of domain names. Disputes under these policies may be filed with one of the approved dispute-resolution service providers for the given policy.

The UDRP was created in order to protect recognized brands and trademarks from abusive by third party registrants who intentionally register confusingly similar domain names in bad faith for profit. It is important to remember that the UDRP applies to all gTLDs and ccTLDs that voluntarily adopted the UDRP policy. [2]

The UDRP Policy provides the legal framework to resolves disputes between a domain name registrant and a third party regarding abusive registrations and use of a specific Internet domain name via a dispute resolution service provider. On October 1999, the ICANN Board adopted the UDRP Rules, which established the requirements and step by step procedures that needs to be followed during the dispute resolution process. [3]

The WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (WIPO Center)served as technical advisors to the ICANN drafting committee during the development of the UDRP Policy and Rules. The WIPO Supplemental Rules was adopted to supplement the UDRP Policy and Rules. Additional dispute resolution policies may apply in specific circumstances for individual TLDs.[4]

List of Approved Dispute Resolution Service Providers

All complaints under the UDRP should be filed by entities with dispute resolution providers approved by ICANN which include:[5]

UDRP Disputes

Under the UDRP Policy and Rules, disputes are considered valid and eligible for mandatory administrative proceedings if the complaint is able to establish the following conditions:[6]

  1. The trademark is damaged as a result of an identical or confusingly similar domain name
  2. The current registrant does not have any relevant interests regarding the domain name
  3. The current registrant uses the domain name in "bad faith"

The following are the three major circumstances of bad faith domain name registrations:

  • domain names are registered for the primary purpose of selling, renting or transferring the domain names registration to a complainant (trademark owner or competitor) for a huge amount of money
  • domain names are registered in order to damage the business of a competitor
  • domain names are used to intentionally confuse and attract consumers to your website or other websites for commercial gains

UDRP Filing Trends and Statistics

Based on the latest filing trends and statistics released by the WIPO Center, 22,500 UDRP based cases involving 40,500 domain names (gTLD & ccTLD) were filed since the implementation of the UDRP in 1999. In 2011, the WIPO Center received 2,764 cybersquatting cases filed by trademark owners involving 4,781 domain names. cybersquatting cases increased by 2.5% compared with the number of cases filed in 2010.[7]

WIPO UDRP Panel Decisions

You can find the Index of of UDRP Panel Decisionshere

Texas Court Overturns UDRP Cases

On January 10, 2012, Senior District Judge Royal Ferguson of the Northern District of Texas issued his final ruling reversing the decisions of the WIPO under the UDRP on all cybesquatting cases filed by the original registrant of 22 domain names (Receivers) as early as 2010. Judge Ferguson ordered the domain names publicstorge.com, pulicstorage.com, puplicstorage.com and aplle.com; which had been transferred to the companies Public Storage and Apple Inc. respectively shall be transferred back to the Receivers. He also ordered the Australian based registrar Fabulous.com to disregard the default transfer ruling of the UDRP for all the remaining non-transferred domain names and to inform the court within two days that the court order has been fulfilled.[8] The UDRP Panel found that the Receivers violated the rights of the legitimate trademark owners. For example, it three domain names contested by Public Storage are obviously confusingly similar to the trademark of the company. In this case, the UDRP Panel ruled in favor of Public Storage after the company proved that the Receiver used the domain names as "parking pages" linking to its competitors websites. The trademark of Public Storage is well known nationwide. Despite of the fact, the Receiver intentionally registered the domain names in bad faith.[9]

Prior to the final court ruling, the Receivers filed an Emergency Motion to Enforce stay and asked the court to order ICANN to reverse the UDRP decisions regarding the transfer of its 22 domains names.[10] The court ordered ICANN to stay and abate the UDRP ruling. ICANN responded that it has no authority to direct the UDRP to terminate its proceedings, only the WIPO has the power to do so. ICANN also argued that the court has no jurisdiction over it and requested to vacate its ruling granting the receivers motion to enforce stay. [11] The court ruled that it has jurisdiction over ICANN and denied ICANN's motion to vacate the court's order. Furthermore, the court ordered ICANN to stay and abate the proceedings and to file a notice confirming that it has complied with the order granting the Receiver’s Emergency Motion to Stay." [12]

You can find the UDRP Panel decisions related to the 22 domain names here

ICA Requests Investigation on NAF UDRP Decisions

On February 2012, the Internet Commerce Association (ICA) sent a letter to ICANN requesting for an immediate investigation regarding the UDRP arbitration practices of the National Arbitration Forum (NAF) due to its recent ruling on two cases.[13] [14] The first case was the Hardware Resources, Inc. v. Yaseen Rehman, wherein NAF ruled the transfer of the domain name hardwareresources.org to the complainant due to its argument that the domain name is confusingly similar to its registered trademark HR Hardware Resources and the defendant failed to respond to the complaint.[15]

ICA argued that the NAF examiner failed to check the complainants USPTO filing wherein each relevant trademark were accompanied with the statement, "NO CLAIM IS MADE TO THE EXCLUSIVE RIGHT TO USE "HARDWARE RESOURCES" APART FROM THE MARK AS SHOWN," which means that the complainant has no right to the generic term hardware resources. ICA pointed out that NAF should have dismissed the complaint and ruled that it was filed in bad faith and an attempted act of Reverse Domain Name Hijacking under Paragraph 15(e) of the UDRP Rules.[16]

The second case in question was the Auto-Owners Insurance Company v. Nokta Internet Technologies wherein the domain name autoownersinsurance.com was transferred to the complainant. NAF ruled that the respondent lacks rights or has no legitimate interest to the disputed domain, which is confusingly similar to the complainants mark and the domain name was previously used by the respondent in bad faith. [17] ICA argued that the second case is an example of gross procedural unfairness under NAF Supplemental Rules, which is in conflict with ICANN's UDRP Policy. [18]

According to ICA Counsel Phil Corwin, "NAF’s administration of the UDRP in the cases cited above appears to be seriously flawed and creates the appearance of substantial bias and ineptitude. ICANN has a responsibility to make serious inquiry into this matter and to take remedial action based upon its findings" [19]

References

  1. UDRP Procedures
  2. Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policies
  3. WIPO Guide to the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP)
  4. WIPO Guide to the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP)
  5. List of Approved Dispute Resolution Service Providers
  6. Mandatory Administrative Proceeding
  7. WIPO Released 2011 Cybersquatting Stats ! 2,764 UDRP cases covering 4,781 domain names in 2011
  8. Wow: Judge orders UDRP transfers, including Apple typo, to be reversed
  9. ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION-Public Storage v. Texas International Property Associates
  10. Receiver asks for typo domains to be confiscated from Apple and others
  11. Receiver: “ICANN thumbing its nose at the Court”, asks court to find ICANN in contempt
  12. ORDER DENYING NON-PARTY INTERNET CORPORATION FOR ASSIGNED NAMES AND NUMBERS’ MOTION TO VACATE
  13. ICANN Should Investigate NAF’s UDRP Practices
  14. ICA demands probe of “shoddy” UDRP decisions
  15. [http://domains.adrforum.com/domains/decisions/1423229.htm NATIONAL ARBITRATION FORUM DECISION Hardware Resources, Inc. v. Yaseen Rehman}
  16. ICANN Should Investigate NAF’s UDRP Practices
  17. NATIONAL ARBITRATION FORUM DECISION Auto-Owners Insurance Company v. Nokta Internet Technologies / DNS Admin
  18. ICANN Should Investigate NAF’s UDRP Practices
  19. ICANN Should Investigate NAF’s UDRP Practices
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