Record Number of Cybersquatting Cases in 2008, WIPO Proposes Paperless UDRP

Allegations of cybersquatting by trademark holders continued to rise in 2008, with a record 2,329 complaints filed under the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP), a quick and cost-effective dispute resolution procedure administered by the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center. This represented an 8% increase over 2007 in the number of generic and country code Top Level Domain (gTLDs and ccTLDs) disputes handled (Table 1) and brings the total number of WIPO cases filed under the UDRP since it was launched ten years ago to over 14,000. To improve efficiency and respond to growing demand, WIPO proposed in December 2008 an “eUDRP Initiative” to render the UDRP paperless.

The increasing number of cases filed with the Center is occurring at a time when the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), responsible for managing the generic top level domain space (gTLD) is preparing to launch large numbers of new gTLDs. ICANN’s current expectation is to begin accepting applications by late 2009. This is a watershed moment in the development of the Domain Name System (DNS), and is of genuine concern for trademark holders.

“The creation of an unknowable and potentially vast number of new gTLDs raises significant issues for rights holders, as well as Internet users generally,” said Mr. Francis Gurry, WIPO Director General. “Cybersquatting remains a serious issue for trademark holders. Supported especially by registrar and registry stakeholders, the sale and broad expansion of new top level domains in the open market, if not properly managed, will provide abundant opportunities for cybersquatters to seize old ground in new domains,” said Mr. Gurry. In this regard, he recalled that one of the recommendations of the Report of the First WIPO Domain Name Process which also gave rise to the UDRP, was that any new gTLDs should be introduced and monitored in a controlled manner.”

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