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The URS Also Applies to These Top-Level Domains

Doug Isenberg

The Uniform Rapid Suspension System (URS) is often described as a domain name dispute policy that applies to the new gTLDs. While that's true, the URS is actually broader than that.

The URS (a quick and inexpensive policy that allows a trademark owner to obtain the temporary suspension of a domain name) applies to more than just the new gTLDs, that is, those top-level domains that are a part of ICANN's 2012 domain name expansion.

Indeed, the first URS case was not for a new gTLD but instead was for .pw, the country-code top-level domain (ccTLD) for the Republic of Palau, a group of islands in the North Pacific Ocean. The determination, for the domain name <facebok.pw>, was issued on September 27, 2013, almost five months before the first URS decision for domain names within new gTLDs (for <ibm.guru> and <ibm.ventures>).

Nearly all (if not actually all) of the URS determinations since then have involved new gTLDs (with .xyz, .club and .email among those that have appeared frequently).

But, in addition, to .pw, six other TLDs have adopted the URS, and one other has adopted a variation of it. Here's the complete list:

  • .cat
  • .jobs
  • .mobi
  • .pro
  • .pw
  • .travel
  • .xxx

Plus, .us domain names are subject to the usTLD Rapid Suspension Dispute Policy (usRS), a similar but more lenient version of the URS that has been invoked only 14 times in the past three years.

The URS Remains Unpopular

If the URS (and usRS) applies to these top-level domains, why have we seen so few cases? I can think of at least three reasons:

  1. The URS (and usRS) are not very attractive to trademark owners because they have a limited remedy (temporary suspension) and a high burden of proof (clear and convincing evidence).
  2. Many of the TLDs that have adopted the URS have done so only recently, so there simply hasn't been much time for trademark owners to take advantage of the URS (and the TLDs listed above are just not popular).
  3. Trademark owners may be unaware that the URS applies to the TLDs listed above. Interestingly, it appears as if the Forum (the largest provider of URS services) doesn't publicize the fact that any top-level domains other than the new gTLDs are subject to the URS (and MFSD, a small URS provider, includes only a minor reference).

Indeed, the URS has been adopted by some registry operators only in recent months. For example, the .pro and .travel registries adopted the URS as part of their renewals with ICANN in October 2015, while the .xxx registry adopted the URS as part of an amendment to its agreement with ICANN in February 2017.

Will the URS Expand Further?

The slow expansion of the URS has been opposed by many domainers, who apparently see it as a potential threat to their livelihood, especially if the URS should one day apply to .com domain names.

For example, in 2015 one blogger wrote that applying the URS to top-level domains beyond the new gTLDs represented "a fundamental change to the ownership rights to all those who own the hundreds of millions of legacy domain names on which most of the Internet is built."

Whether additional TLDs will adopt the URS is unclear. But in the meantime, any trademark owner facing a cybersquatter in one of the TLDs listed above should consider the URS (or usRS) when deciding whether and how to enforce its rights.

By Doug Isenberg, Attorney & Founder of The GigaLaw Firm. Learn more by visiting The GigaLaw Firm website. Doug Isenberg also maintains a blog here.

Related topics: Cybersquatting, Domain Names, Intellectual Property, Law, Top-Level Domains

 
   

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