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Ten Years of UDRP

Elisa Cooper

In 1999, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) developed a policy to resolve disputes between trademark owners and registrants of domain names. This policy, the Uniform Domain-Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP), set out procedures, rules and guidelines that govern the process whereby an aggrieved trademark owner could petition an appointed arbitrator or group of arbitrators to cancel the domain name registration or transfer the domain name back to the trademark owner based on the trademark owner's superior rights to the domain name and based upon the domain name registrant's bad faith.

UDRP was made available for disputes concerning an alleged abusive registration of a domain name. Abusive registrations were those that met the following criteria: 

  • The domain name registered by the domain name registrant is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which the complainant (the person or entity bringing the complaint) has rights.
  • The domain name registrant had no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the domain name in question.
  • The domain name had been registered and was being used in bad faith.

In the past 10 years alone, more than 16,000 disputes have been filed resulting in more than 10,000 domain name transfers. While the transfer of 10,000 domains to their rightful owners over the past ten years is impressive, it is worthwhile to note that the top 30 Interbrand-ranked brands suffer more domain name abuse than this in a single day.

To mark this 10 year anniversary, WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization) held a conference on October 12th which drew more than 200 attendees including intellectual property counsel, UDRP and DNS stakeholders, and WIPO domain name panelists.

The conference provided attendees with the opportunity to discuss potential enhancements including electronic filings, and the possibility for respondents to express early consent to transfer or to participate in the UDRP proceedings through the filing of a response. Discussions related to the launch of ICANN's new gTLDs also generated significant interest.

By Elisa Cooper, SVP Marketing and Policy at Brandsight, Inc.
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