Cybersquatting Remedies Under The Uniform Domain Name Dispute Policy

By Enrico Schaefer

The current Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP) offers a relatively quick and cost effective mechanism to independently resolve disputes that arise from the abusive registration of trademarks as domain names. Under the UDRP, a complainant must show that the domain name in dispute is identical or confusingly similar to its trademark, that the respondent does not have a right or legitimate interest in the domain name, and that the respondent registered and used the domain name in bad faith.

However, the UDRP is not without its share of problems. The first major problem of the UDRP is that it is only a curative solution, meaning it provides relief after a violation has already occurred. For example, a cybersquatter can register an IP owner's identifiers forcing the aggrieved owner to use the UDRP. In essence, the UDRP seeks to return the damaged IP owner to as good as a position as he was before the cybersquatting. Second, the UDRP has no preventative measure to protect trademark holders from cybersquatters. Theoretically, the only way IP owners can protect themselves as new gTLDs are introduced is by registering their entire trademark portfolio. In essence, IP owners compete with cybersquatters for their own trademarks. Third, no provisions exist to deal with the situation where IP owners want to protect their trademarks in sponsored gTLDs but are restricted because the TLD is reserved for those entities that qualify in the particularized and specialized space.

Fortunately, there are ways to protect your trademarks, and other domain names for that matter. While no uniform IP protection mechanism to combat the unauthorized registration of domain names currently exists, you can heed recommendations, such as those made by WIPO, and perform your own preventative care. One example is to use defensive registrations, or register domain names in the existing TLDs (such as .com, .net, etc.) and new gTLDS (such as .mobi). It is also important to be aware of when such new gTLDs are to be made available and ensure that you take advantage of any sunrise period, a period affording trademark holders the right to register prior to the general public, available to you. Similarly, being able to recognize the common tactics of cybersquatters in both existing and newly offered gTLDs can further enhance your ability to prevent unauthorized registration of domain names similar your trademark. You can contact us or another domain name lawyer today, with experience in cybersquatting, domain name disputes, and trademarks can assist you in protection mechanisms and help prevent an unnecessarily forced run-in with the UDRP.

Enrico Schaefer is the founding attorney of Traverse Legal, PLC, a high-tech law firm specializing in web law. You can find out more about protecting your domain name, UDRP arbitrations and anti-cybersquatting laws at Traverse Legal’s domain name theft and cybersquatting blog and also at the intellectual property and trademark blog.


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