Domain Name Disputes: There’s a Site for That.

By Jennifer Williams

Reviewed by Kyu Hee Chu

The Internet has become a staple in our daily lives. There seems to be a website for anything you could possibly imagine. You can order food, get directions, order clothing, make appointments, fill prescriptions, etc. The list and the possibilities are endless. These services are wonderful benefits that go hand in hand with advances in technology. Yet, there is a downside to this- webpage creators are likely to find it harder and harder to find a domain name that is not already in use. Even if they don’t check and just start using a particular domain name, it is possible that somewhere down the road, the original domain name user will initiate a domain name dispute. All current and future domain name owners should know what a domain name dispute is and how it will progress should they ever be a part of one.

What is a Domain Name Dispute?

The Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy ( “UDRP”) which has been implemented by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (“ICANN”), outlines the policies that apply between registrants of a domain name and third parties over the registration and use of domain names. Dispute proceedings can result in a cancellation, transfer, or change to a domain name and arise from alleged abusive registrations of domain names. The complainant has the burden to prove that:

  1. Respondent’s domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which the complainant has rights; and
  2. Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests with respect to the domain name; and
  3. Respondent’s domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith. [i]

What is the Progression of a Domain Name Dispute?

There are four registered dispute-resolution service providers which are the Asian Domain Name Dispute Resolution Centre, the National Arbitration Forum, WIPO, and The Czech Arbitration Court Arbitration for Internet Disputes. Each provider follows the rules for Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy as well as their own supplemental rules.[ii] In general, the progression of a Domain Name Dispute is:

  1. The Complaint is filed with one of the four dispute-resolution service providers and a copy of the complaint is sent to concerned registrar(s) and the Respondent;
  2. The complaint is acknowledged and information is requested from the registrar(s) regarding specific details of the disputed domain names(s);
  3. The Center conducts Formalities Compliance review and deficiencies are notified to both parties. If not remedied by Complainant in five calendar days, the complaint is dismissed;
  4. Once complaint is non-deficient and the required payment is made, both parties are formally notified and formal commencement of administrative proceeding begins;
  5. Response to complaint is due within twenty calendar days of formal commencement. Center acknowledges receipt or default notification is sent;
  6. An Administrative Panel of 1-3 members is appointed and within fourteen calendar days a decision is required;
  7. Parties, ICANN, and concerned registrar(s) are notified of decision within three calendar days;
  8. Decision is to be implemented after ten business days of receipt of notice unless Respondent sends official documentation showing that a lawsuit is being commenced against Complainant.  [iii]

Keeping in mind that this in a general progression of a Domain Name Dispute, it is always beneficial to know what to expect if you are ever involved in one. To determine the progression specific to your dispute, you will need to determine which of the four service providers is being used and find their specific progression. As the Internet expands, it becomes more and more likely that domain name disputes will arise, which is why it is important to be informed and ahead of the game.

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