What is the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy?

What is the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy?

When a manufacturer sells goods to consumers with a trademark on the goods, that manufacturer is granted certain exclusives rights.  The first manufacturer to place the trademark on goods, is allow to prevent other people from using the same trademark.  The purpose of granting trademark rights to manufacturers is to protect consumers.  The theory behind trademark law is that consumers must be protected from unscrupulous manufacturers that attempt to trick consumers into purchasing inferior quality goods labeled with a trademark associated with high quality goods.

The internet is a relatively recent innovation.  Trademark law was written long before the internet was created. Because of this, trademark law has a difficult time dealing with some of the unique issues created by the internet.  One of the trademark law issues created by the internet is cybersquatting.

The internet is a network of computers that communicate using internet protocol addresses.  An internet protocol address is a group of numbers that identify an individual  computer on the internet.  Computers have no problem communicating with one another using internet protocol addresses, but human beings have a difficult time remembering seeming random numbers.  To solve this problem domain names can be purchased and associated with an internet protocol address.  Domain names can be words or short phrases that help human beings find websites on the internet.

Cybersquatting is the practice of purchasing a domain name which contains a trademark not owned by the purchaser.  Cybersquatters may offer to sell the domain name directly to the trademark owner, put the domain name up for auction, or maintain the domain name and use it to attract Internet users to their own site or business.

Trademark law is not well equipped to deal cybersquatting because the cost of bringing a trademark infringement lawsuit may be greater than the price the cybersquatter demands for ownership of the domain name.  A trademark owner is faced with either spending a significant amount of money on legal costs to get a domain name or paying a cybersquatter for the domain name and thus encouraging the cybersquatter to continue holding domain names for ransom.

The solution to this problem is the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy.  The Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy is an arbitration proceeding implemented by all domain registrars under the instruction of Internet Corporation for Names and Numbers.  A trademark owner can file a Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy case with a resolution service provider such as the World Intellectual Property Organization or the National Arbitration Forum.  Internet Corporation for Names and Numbers maintains a list of resolution service providers.

In order to prevail in a Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy case, a trademark owner must demonstrate the following elements:

  1. Ownership of a trademark (registered or unregistered) that is the same or confusingly similar to a third party’s domain name; and
  2. That the domain name owner does not have any rights or legitimate interests in the domain name; and
  3. That the domain name was registered and used in bad faith.

Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy provides a trademark owner with an administrative procedure which is less-expensive that going to court and produces a result in a short period of time.  A decision in a Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy proceeding will be reached in approximately 50-60 days from the date filed, compared to a court proceeding which could take years.  The domain name will either be cancelled, transferred, or sustained. A Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy complaint can be filed against an international or domestic party.

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