Cybersquatting—the practice of registering or using a domain name to profit from the goodwill of someone else’s trademark—continues to cause problems for companies around the world. According to a recent report from the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), its Arbitration and Mediation Center received a record number of cybersquatting cases in 2012.
WIPO is authorized to resolve complaints under the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP). The UDRP requires that most trademark-based domain-name disputes be resolved by agreement, court action, or arbitration before a domain name is suspended, cancelled, or transferred. Trademark holders can pursue expedited administrative proceedings in cybersquatting cases by filing a complaint with an approved dispute-resolution service provider like WIPO.
Based on WIPO’s data, a record number of trademark holders took advantage of these proceedings in 2012. In total, trademark holders filed 2,884 cybersquatting cases covering 5,084 Internet domain names with the WIPO Center. This represents an uptick of 4.5 percent over 2011’s record levels.
Below are several other findings of note from WIPO’s cybersquatting cases:
- Cases include complainants and respondents from 120 countries, ten countries more than the 2011 WIPO caseload.
- Among WIPO cases in 2012, country-code top-level domains (ccTLDs) accounted for almost 12 percent of filings, with 67 national domain registries now connected to WIPO domain name dispute resolution services.
- The top three areas of complainant activity in 2012 were retail, fashion and banking and finance. The caseload featured many well-known names from business as well as public interest sectors.
- Of the generic top-level domain (gTLD) cases filed with WIPO in 2012, three quarters (74.8%) concerned registrations in the .com domain.
- The increased filings related to fashion and luxury brands reflect in part a growth in the number of cases filed by brand owners alleging counterfeiting via the web pages offered under the disputed domain name.
- Parties settled around one out of five WIPO cases before reaching panel decision.
- Applying UDRP jurisprudence, WIPO panels in 2012 found evidence of cybersquatting in 91 percent of all decided cases.
As we discussed last week, cybersquatting cases are only expected to increase with the introduction of new gTLDs in the coming months. Therefore, trademark holders should consider reviewing their procedures for detecting and enforcing trademark abuse online.
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I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine. As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +