What is UDRP and When Should I Use It?
The UDRP is the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy. It is a legal mechanism to resolve disputes between registrants of domain names and third parties, typically trademark and other intellectual property owners, over the abusive or infringing registration and/or use of domain names. The UDRP is administered by four ICANN-approved dispute resolution service providers:
Asian Domain Name Dispute Resolution Centre
National Arbitration Forum
World Intellectual Property Organization
The Czech Arbitration Court Arbitration Center for Internet Disputes
Each of these arbitral bodies has the authority to administer UDRP disputes pursuant to the Rules for Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy. Each body also has its own supplemental rules that are specific to its proceedings.
Any person or company in any jurisdiction is entitled to file a UDRP action for disputes over abusive domain name registration and use. Keep in mind, however, that the UDRP does not apply to complaints against registrars with whom the domain name is registered.
For abusive domain name registrations, formal UDRP Policy dictates that actions may be brought when:
the registered domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark in which the complainant has rights; and
the registrant of the domain name has no legitimate rights in that domain name; and the domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.
One of the challenges to a UDRP for the complainant is showing that the registrant is using the domain in bad faith. While there are numerous circumstances and scenarios that could be considered to be bad faith use, the UDPR Policy provides several examples that constitute bad faith registration and use:
Instances of cybersquatting where the domain is acquired primarily for the purpose of reselling it to the legitimate owner of a trademark or a competitor of that owner; or
Where a domain name is registered to prevent the owner of a trademark from reflecting the mark in a corresponding domain name and the domain name registrant has engaged in a pattern of such conduct; or
The domain name was registered primarily for the purpose of disrupting the business of a competitor and the domain name registrant has engaged in a pattern of such conduct; or
The registrant of the domain name intentionally attempts to attract for financial gain Internet users to its or another’s website by creating a likelihood of confusion with the complainant’s trademark.
The UDRP process is particularly attractive to many trademark owners because it a cheaper and faster method of adjudicating domain name abuse than the formal legal system. Further, it is not jurisdiction specific and the procedures are efficient as the adjudicators have considerable expertise in dealing with trademark law, Internet related issues and domain name disputes. Finally, although it is an alternative to bringing an action in a court of law, it is not a substitute to filing a formal legal action. UDRP actions do not preclude complainants from subsequently commencing lawsuits.
Given the above, and understanding the underlying framework, it is not a surprise that the UDRP process is the most desirable methods of resolving abusive registration and use of domain names across the globe.