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New UDRP Filing Fees at Czech Arbitration Court

Doug Isenberg

The Czech Arbitration Court (CAC) has long offered the least expensive (by far) filing fees for complaints under the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP), but its fee are about to become more expensive, at least in most cases.

CAC's base UDRP filing fee (for a dispute involving up to five domain names and a single-member panel) will increase on February 1, 2018, from 500 euros to 800 euros. As of this writing, that's equivalent to about U.S. $600.

"This fee schedule reflects more the actual costs and time spent on the proceedings," according to a statement on the CAC website.

While the increase is significant — sixty percent — it's still the cheapest among all five of the UDRP service providers, whose base fees are shown here (in U.S. dollars):

  • WIPO: $1,500
  • ACDR: $1,500
  • The Forum: $1,300
  • ADNDRC: $1,300
  • CAC: $600 (approx.)

Fees at all of the UDRP providers increase as the number of disputed domain names increase, as well as if a three-member (instead of single-member) panel is selected by the Complainant or Respondent.

However, CAC is the only UDRP provider that has two fee schedules depending upon the complexity of the proceeding and whether a response is filed. The 800 euro filing fee at CAC is described as an "initial" fee. An "additional" fee will continue to apply if a response is filed or if "the Panel determines that it is appropriate for the Complainant to pay the Additional UDRP Fees, having regard to the complexity of the proceeding."

Interestingly, while the initial fee is increasing from 500 euros to 800 euros, the additional fee is decreasing (as of February 1, 2018) from 800 euros to 300 euros.

Therefore, the combined initial and additional fees for a base UDRP case at CAC will decrease from 1,300 euros to 1,100 euros. However, I believe that few cases historically have been required to pay an additional fee, so — if that practice continues — most complainants at CAC will be subject to a higher (initial-only) fee.

CAC's low filing fees have been attractive to some trademark owners, with about 240 decisions in 2017. Still, WIPO and the Forum remain the most popular UDRP providers, handling thousands of cases each year.

Of course, filing fees are just one factor to consider when choosing a UDRP service provider.

By Doug Isenberg, Attorney & Founder of The GigaLaw Firm Learn more by visiting The GigaLaw Firm website. Doug Isenberg also maintains a blog hereVisit Page
Related topics: Domain Management, Domain Names, UDRP
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A trap for the unwary John Berryhill  –  Jan 11, 2018 12:55 PM PDT

You will note the (approx) in Doug's estimate of the CAC fee in dollars.

What you will find out, if you have ever had reason to pay a fee to the CAC, which Doug has never done, and I have had the miserable experience several times, is that there are two catches in that "(approx)".

The first catch is that fees can only be paid by wire transfer.  If you do not have a bank account denominated in euro, then the CAC does not permit any rounding errors in what the CAC considers the exchange rate to have been, versus what your bank or any intermediary bank may have applied as the current exchange rate applicable to the transaction at the time the wire was sent.

The second catch, which the CAC will not warn you about, is that even if you add to your bank's charge the amount of your bank's fee for sending a wire, it turns out that the bank used by the CAC assesses an additional inbound service charge for wire payments to the CAC.  The CAC goes by the net deposit to their account, and does not consider the charge (undisclosed on their web site) which their own bank charges them for the wire.

And, be mindful of Footnote 3 to their fee chart, which states:

"The Czech Arbitration Court will return the UDRP Fees applicable for filing a request to review the CAC’s administrative to terminate an administrative proceeding due to administrative deficiencies, if the review is concluded in favor of the Complainant."

I challenge any speaker of English to tell me what that means.

So, do consider the fact that if you are a US firm whose bank account is denominated in dollars, you are in for a Kafkaesque ride with CAC fees.

It's not so bad if you are a Complainant, since the CAC will inform you that you are 15 euro short (their bank fee) when you send your fee the first time, and will provide you with additional time to wire that 15 euro.  If your bank is anything like, oh, TD Bank, and rapes you on international wire fees, then you will end up paying around $80 (approx) to send around $18 (approx) in order to account for your bank's fee and the CAC's bank's fee, once you have learned what it is.  Caution: their bank's fee changes.

If, however, you are a Respondent and want to select a three member panel, as the UDRP permits, the CAC will require the entire fee to be paid by the response deadline without any additional time.  So, you need to plan well in advance.  And, how much is that fee?  Good luck reading that table to figure it out.

And here's the really funny part about how the CAC administers three-member panel proceedings.  The UDRP requires that in a Respondent-requested UDRP, that the total UDRP fees be split equally between the parties.  It's an actual rule, not a suggestion. So, while the Complainant has paid the CAC's "teaser" fee, and the Respondent has ponied up 1500 euro, you would expect the CAC to do what WIPO does with their "teaser" fee.  But they don't.

This requires a little digression on "teaser" fee's at WIPO and CAC.  WIPO charges 1500 for a single member panel complaint, and 4000 overall for a three member panel proceeding.  So the normal sequence is:  (a) Complainant pays 1500, (b) Respondent pays 2000, and then WIPO will chase the Complainant for the additional 500 it owes.  Fortunately, there is no deadline, and I have seen WIPO go well over a month (while your client's domain name remains locked) trying to chase the Complainant for that additional 500 because, duh, now you have a $400 an hour lawyer who has spent their client's retainer trying to get another $500 out of their client.

Be that as it may, the CAC will not actually require the Complainant to pony up their share of the fees that the UDRP requires to be paid.  In the last of three go-rounds at this scenario in my experience, the CAC said that they would go ahead and appoint a three member panel anyway, and let the panel decide the case and, incidentally, whether or not to require the Complainant to pay its UDRP-mandated half of the fee.  And don't bother telling ICANN Compliance.  There is no "ICANN Compliance" for UDRP providers.

So, while Doug's sunny "look at these low fees" piece is attractive, two points to bear in mind are:

1.  If you do not normally work in euro, you are going to chew through billable time dealing with administrative nonsense involving the CAC's bank's practices and opinion of exchange rates.

2. If you are one of those lowlife scumbags who actually represents Respondents in these things, give yourself a week and a half of headroom to deal with similar idiocy.  If your client managed to reach a lawyer who does these things within days of the deadline, as is normal in these things, be sure to tell them how f---d they are going to be if you do not intentionally overpay the CAC by a wide margin, and do not assume that what you think is a 1500 euro wire payment is what the CAC will consider to be a 1500 euro wire payment.

3.  Be prepared to contact the ICANN legal department when the CAC fails - as they do every, single, time - to apply the UDRP fee rules.

Forgot to add John Berryhill  –  Jan 11, 2018 1:00 PM PDT

Incidentally, the "teaser fee" problem does not exist at NAF, since their three member panel fee is exactly double the single-member panel fee.  So if you are filing a complaint, and you anticipate any likelihood of a competent response requesting a three-member panel fee, you won't go insane chasing your client for more money after you told them the job was already done.

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