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    WIPO Sees Decrease In Cybersquatting Complaints, Warns Of Domain Name Expansion

    Published on 23 March 2010 @ 12:01 am

    By and , Intellectual Property Watch

    The expansion of internet domain names as proposed is worrying to trademark owners as a significant number cybersquatting cases continue to be filed in the World Intellectual Property Organization dispute resolution system, WIPO said this week. Meanwhile internet intermediaries should play a bigger role in the fight against trademark infringement, WIPO officials said.

    Complaints filed with the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP) in 2009 decreased by 9.5 percent compared to the previous year. WIPO is the recipient of over half of global internet domain dispute cases, it said.

    However, complaints filed at WIPO in 2009, though down, covered “the highest number of individual domain names in a given year,” as opposed to collective filings, WIPO Director General Francis Gurry said during an 18 March press conference at the United Nations.

    The decrease has been brought by a diminution in enforcement budgets following the global economic crisis, according to Gurry.

    The UDRP was proposed by WIPO in 1999 and was designed to address the abusive registration of domain names, known as cybersquatting.

    In 2009, 2,107 cases were brought to the WIPO UDRP, compared to 2,329 cases in 2008. Those complaints concerned 4,688 domain names, compared to 3,958 in 2008, according to a WIPO press release. This is a fraction of the estimated 180 million domains in the world, WIPO said. The vast majority of disputed domain names are under the .com top-level domain, it said.

    New Generic Top-Level Domains a Threat to IP Rights?

    The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the technical coordination body for the internet domain name system, is planning a significant expansion of the domain name system. WIPO said “the associated potential for trademark abuse is a serious concern for brand owners and users.”

    To address concerns about preventing intellectual property rights infringers online, WIPO proposed a “pre-delegation” procedure so that trademark owners can seek to protect their rights before ICANN approves a new domain. This procedure is included in the ICANN’s top-level domain draft applicant guidebook.

    WIPO: Raise Responsibility of Intermediaries

    WIPO also proposed a “post-delegation” procedure that would give trademark owners a method for addressing concerns after a new domain is awarded (IPW, WIPO, 16 March 2009). This procedure is also included in ICANN’s draft applicant guidebook, but with significant amendments which WIPO believes require further discussion in order for the mechanism to have its intended effect, according to Erik Wilbers, director of the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Centre, who spoke at the press conference and afterward to Intellectual Property Watch.

    WIPO believes that intermediaries, in particular domain name registries, should hold more responsibility in cases of cybersquatting, as it is important to go to the “root of the problem,” Wilbers said.

    The post-delegation procedure introduced by WIPO provides a “means for brand owners to file an objection against a domain registry whose operation or use of an ICANN-approved new domain is alleged to cause or materially contribute to trademark abuse,” according to the press release.

    In WIPO’s proposal, intermediaries should be able to benefit from “safe harbours.” The proposed WIPO mechanism would go beyond the current ICANN proposal – where intermediaries are only liable when they themselves are in effect cybersquatters – also include instances of wilful blindness on the part of the intermediaries, said Wilbers.

    Statistics on UDRP Filings

    The main complainant country filings over the last 10 years came from the US (42.41 percent), followed by 12 European countries, including France (10.94 percent), United Kingdom (7.51 percent), Germany (5.77 percent), and Switzerland (5.13 percent). Far behind stand India (1.01 percent) and Brazil (0.94 percent).

    The main respondent countries, in the same period, were the US (38.45 percent), the UK (8.40 percent), China (5.53 percent), Canada (4.62 percent), and Spain (4.50 percent).

    The main areas of WIPO domain name complainant activity, in 2009, biotechnology and pharmaceuticals (9.52 percent), banking and finance (9.30 percent), internet and IT (8.55 percent), retail (8.51 percent), and food, beverages and restaurants (7.08 percent).

    In 2009, the Inter-Continental Hotel Group filed “the largest UDRP dispute on record, involving 1,542 domain names in a single WIPO case,” according to the release. Ironically, there is an Inter-Continental Hotel directly facing WIPO headquarters in Geneva.

    The UDRP allows the “straightforward enforcement of panel decisions, without need for further judicial intervention,” according to the release.

    One limitation of the UDRP procedure is that it does not provide for monetary penalties. Currently the system allows for the cancellation of registration or the transfer of registration without damages. Damages can only be sought in front of a court, said Gurry.

    Regarding its earlier discussions of practical options to streamline the efficiency of UDRP case processes, WIPO, within the existing UDRP framework, expects to come out with some practical adjustments that would likely involve fee levels and word limits, Wilbers said.

    [Editor's Note: this story was corrected and updated at 13:40 and 15:10 on 23 March.]

    Catherine Saez may be reached at info@ip-watch.ch.

    William New may be reached at wnew@ip-watch.ch.

     


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    We welcome your participation in article and blog comment threads, and other discussion forums, where we encourage you to analyse and react to the content available on the Intellectual Property Watch website. By participating in discussions or reader forums, or by submitting opinion pieces or comments to articles, blogs, reviews or multimedia features, you are consenting to these rules.

    We welcome your participation in article and blog comment threads, and other discussion forums, where we encourage you to analyse and react to the content available on the Intellectual Property Watch website.

    By participating in discussions or reader forums, or by submitting opinion pieces or comments to articles, blogs, reviews or multimedia features, you are consenting to these rules.

    1. You agree that you are fully responsible for the content that you post. You will not knowingly post content that violates the copyright, trademark, patent or other intellectual property right of any third party or which you know is under a confidentiality obligation preventing its publication and that you will request removal of the same should you discover that you have violated this provision. Likewise, you may not post content that is libelous, defamatory, obscene, abusive, that violates a third party's right to privacy, that otherwise violates any applicable local, state, national or international law, that amounts to spamming or that is otherwise inappropriate. You may not post content that degrades others on the basis of gender, race, class, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sexual preference, disability or other classification. Epithets and other language intended to intimidate or to incite violence are also prohibited. Furthermore, you may not impersonate others.

    2. You understand and agree that Intellectual Property Watch is not responsible for any content posted by you or third parties. You further understand that IP Watch does not monitor the content posted. Nevertheless, IP Watch may monitor the any user-generated content as it chooses and reserves the right to remove, edit or otherwise alter content that it deems inappropriate for any reason whatever without consent nor notice. We further reserve the right, in our sole discretion, to remove a user's privilege to post content on our site. IP Watch is not in any manner endorsing the content of the discussion forums and cannot and will not vouch for its reliability or otherwise accept liability for it.

    3. By submitting any contribution to IP Watch, you warrant that your contribution is your own original work and that you have the right to make it available to IP Watch for all purposes and you agree to indemnify IP Watch, its directors, employees and agents against all damages, legal fees and others expenses that may be incurred by IP Watch as a result of your breach of warranty or of these terms.

    4. You further agree not to publish any personal information about yourself or anyone else (for example telephone number or home address). If you add a comment to a blog, be aware that your email address will be apparent.

    5. IP Watch will not be liable for any loss including but not limited to the following (whether such losses are foreseen, known or otherwise): loss of data, loss of revenue or anticipated profit, loss of business, loss of opportunity, loss of goodwill or injury to reputation, losses suffered by third parties, any indirect, consequential or exemplary damages.

    6. You understand and agree that the discussion forums are to be used only for non-commercial purposes. You may not solicit funds, promote commercial entities or otherwise engage in commercial activity in our discussion forums.

    7. You acknowledge and agree that you use and/or rely on any information obtained through the discussion forums at your own risk.

    8. For any content that you post, you hereby grant to IP Watch the royalty-free, irrevocable, perpetual, exclusive and fully sub-licensable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform and display such content in whole or in part, world-wide and to incorporate it in other works, in any form, media or technology now known or later developed.

    9. These terms and your posts and contributions shall be governed and interpreted in accordance with the laws of Switzerland (without giving effect to conflict of laws principles thereof) and any dispute exclusively settled by the Courts of the Canton of Geneva.

     

     
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