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ICANN's Uniform Rapid Suspension: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Elisa Cooper

With so many new gTLDs moving into their respective general availability periods, and incidents of cybersquatting beginning to appear, many companies are now looking towards the URS (Uniform Rapid Suspension) as a possible solution for quickly remediating abuse. As a reminder, domains that are the subject of a successful URS ruling are suspended for the remainder of the registration term, or can be renewed for an additional year at the current registrar.

While the URS provides a number of upsides, it's not necessarily the panacea that many had hoped it would be. So let's talk about the good, the bad, and the ugly of the URS.

First the good

The URS provides an inexpensive, expedited arbitration process for dealing with instances of clearly infringing new gTLD domain name registrations. With a filing fee of just $375 and a formal complaint which can be no longer than 500 words, it's clear why so many are taking a closer look at this option. And if you're looking for a way to get almost immediate gratification, filing a URS complaint might just fit the bill, as decisions can be handed down within a week's time.

Next the bad

So while you may be able to redirect an infringing domain relatively quickly to a website stating that the domain has been suspended, you will not be able to update Whois contact information. Contact information for the domain will continue to show the original infringing registrant. Moreover the domain must remain at the registrar where it was initially registered.

And finally, the ugly

Undoubtedly, the biggest issue with the URS is that there is no transfer mechanism. The domain will become available for registration again at expiration. This means that brand owners will be forced to monitor the domain after it becomes available for registration, or they must place a snap on the name in order to attempt recovery at expiration. Of course, there's never a guarantee that domains can be recovered when they become available for registration again.

Clearly there are instances where the URS will provide relief. But what should you do if you need the domain transferred? Start by contacting the registrant and explaining that the domain is infringing and ask for them to allow the name to be transferred. If the registrant does not comply, then follow-up with a more formal C&D — in some cases you may consider offering to cover the cost of the registration. And in the case that the registrant still does not comply, consider a UDRP which provides for a transfer mechanism. Of course, there may be cases where going straight to a UDRP may be best due to the risk of cyberflight and/or timing requirements.

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

Related topics: Cybersquatting, Domain Names, ICANN, Registry Services, Top-Level Domains, UDRP, Whois


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Thanks Elisa,If there are “instances of clearly Alex Tajirian  –  Mar 01, 2014 2:44 AM PDT

Thanks Elisa,

If there are “instances of clearly infringing new gTLD domain name registrations,” why aren’t there mechanisms to prevent them prior to registrations?

What is the motivation for possibly creating an infinite loop of”ugliness?

There are mechanisms in place to dissuade Michele Neylon  –  Mar 03, 2014 5:25 AM PDT

There are mechanisms in place to dissuade registrants from registering potentially infringing domains
There are also plenty of opportunities for brands to register domains pro-actively during sunrise etc.,

Wrong incentives :( Alex Tajirian  –  Mar 03, 2014 10:36 AM PDT

“[M]echanisms in place to dissuade” are not “mechanisms to prevent them prior to registrations.” Thus, the flawed existing mechanisms lead to unnecessary costly defensive registrations, which was my point. You seem to favor the anticipated costly reactive solutions to inexpensive proactive solutions.

URS is not UDRP James M. Bladel  –  Mar 01, 2014 10:29 PM PDT

I don't agree with the criticisms designated "Bad" or "Ugly."

URS was intended to be a lightweight (faster,cheaper) alternative to UDRP for the most blatant cases of infringement.  This was the direct result of IP complaints about the shortcomings of the UDRP as a sort of "rapid response" mechanism.  But now, this article appears to be faulting the new process for not behaving more like the old policy.

If a change of registrar or change of registrant is the desired outcome, then skip URS and use UDRP.

+1 URS was designed as a cheap Michele Neylon  –  Mar 03, 2014 5:23 AM PDT

URS was designed as a cheap and fast alternative to UDRP
If you want all the other stuff you mention then you need to do a UDRP - end of story.

Inability to Transfer Long Identified as Issue Elisa Cooper  –  Mar 03, 2014 12:40 PM PDT

Inability to Transfer Long Identified as Issue

The inability for successful complainants to transfer domains has long been identified as an issue, and was identified back in 2009 by many prominent brand owners, in response to the STI Report: http://archive.icann.org/en/topics/new-gtlds/summary-analysis-special-trademarks-issues-report-15feb10-en.pdf. So I agree, if you want to transfer the domain, the URS is not an option.

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