WIPO data reveal cybersquatting rise

30-04-2012

The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) has announced a record number of cybersquatting cases for 2011.

The number of trademark holders filing cybersquatting cases with WIPO’s Arbitration and Mediation Center under procedures based on the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP) rose to 2,764—an increase of 2.5 percent on 2010, and 9.4 percent on 2009.

Cybersquatting refers to the practice of bad faith registration, trafficking, or use of a domain name to profit from someone else’s trademark. The UDRP, introduced in 1999, allows trademark holders to resolve domain name disputes outside the courts.

To have a domain name transferred or suspended under the UDRP, a trademark holder is required to prove that the disputed domain is confusingly similar to its trademark, that it is used in bad faith and that the domain holder has no legitimate interest in that domain name.

Cases filed in 2011 involved complainants and respondents from 110 countries. US complainants filed 929 cases—more than any other country— followed by France with 300 and the UK with 244. The majority of cases (17.8 percent) concerned retail but the Internet and IT, and the biotechnology and pharmaceutical sectors, also ranked highly. WIPO also received the first UDRP case concerning the new .xxx domain. Complainants included a range of household names such as Nestlé, Microsoft and Volkswagen.

With the increase in the number of generic top level domains (gTLDs) such as .com underway, a further rise in cases is expected in 2012. Speaking at a press conference, WIPO director general Francis Gurry said: “These UDRP filing trends illustrate that even under today’s domain name system, brand owners already have to make difficult choices for their stretched online enforcement resources.

With the domain name coordinating body, ICANN [the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers], allowing for a massive increase in the number of new domains, brand owners’ resources will likely be stretched further.

This article was first published on 01 May 2012 in World IP Review

WIPO, cybersquatting, UDRP, .xxx, gTLDs, ICANN

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