The UDRP — which stands for Uniform Domain-Name Dispute-Resolution Policy — is a set of rules that shows how domain name disputes should be settled. This scheme involves all generic top-level domains (gTLDs).
The ICANN — Internet Corporation for Assigned Name and Numbers — established the UDRP in 1999 to protect corporate trademarks from other registrants who might register a related domain name before the company can.
The UDRP is adapted by all ICANN-accredited registrars, including Crazy Domains. This policy is shared between the registrar and the registrant — which is found in every Domain Name Purchase Agreement.
By signing this agreement upon purchasing a domain name, registrants agree that their domain name registration “will not infringe upon or otherwise violate the rights of any third party.”
Also, domain name registrants must submit themselves to an arbitration-like proceeding should a claim arise.
Why Is the UDRP Important
A domain name is not only your address in the world wide web; it is also your brand’s trademark. Some entities can register domain names similar to your brand name and use them in bad faith.
An example of this is cybersquatting — which is the malicious practice of registering domain names relevant to a trademarked brand. Cybersquatters often intend to use these domains for profit, either by reselling them at a higher price or using them for their own good reputation.
To file for a case, the Complainant (trademark holder) must prove the following:
- That the disputed domain name is identical or closely similar to a trademark that the Complainant owns the rights to.
- That the Respondent (domain holder) has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name.
- That the Respondent has registered a domain name and is using it in bad faith.
How Does the UDRP Process Work
When a registered trademark holder finds a registered domain name relevant to their brand, they can file a complaint with any Dispute Resolution Service Providers authorised by ICANN.
- The Complainant files a complaint with a UDRP Provider — which will then send a copy to the Respondent at the address listed on the WhoIs database.
The Provider checks the complaint if it complies with the provider and UDRP rules. If the complaint complies, the proceeding continues. Otherwise, the Complainant will have only 5 days to resolve the issues.
Learn how to check the registrant information in the WhoIs Database.
Important Note: Complainants should review not just the general rules established by the UDRP — but also the supplemental rules set by their chosen Provider. This helps them to fully comply with the rules and regulations and ensures that their complaint will not be dismissed.
- Once the Provider accepts the complaint, the Complainant will have 3 days to send a copy to the registrar where the domain name is registered, along with a copy to the Respondent.
Note: Upon receiving a copy of the complaint, the Respondent may attempt to delay proceedings by transferring the domain to a new registrar. This tactic is called cyberflight.
To discourage this tactic, the UDRP has been updated. Registrars are now required to lock the disputed domain name within 2 days upon receiving a verification request from the UDRP Provider.
- The Respondent should respond to the complaint and offer any bases for retaining the disputed domain name within 20 days.
If the Respondent is unable to comply after 20 days, the Respondent is assumed to have defaulted. The ruling will automatically be in favour of the Complainant.
- Once the Respondent sends his or her response, the Provider will have 5 days to choose a panel to work on the case.
- The panel renders a decision within 14 days from appointment.
- The panel has 3 days to deliver the decision to both parties involved
- If the decision is in favour of the Complainant, the Respondent has 10 days to file an appeal or countersuit in a mutual jurisdiction court.
If the Respondent does not argue the ruling, the registrar must comply with the panel’s decision and implement the remedy requested by the Complainant.
There are (3) three possible resolutions of a Domain-Name Dispute:
- Court Action
If the decision is in favour of the Complainant, registrars can implement the following remedies to the disputed domain name:
- Domain Cancellation
- Domain Suspension
- Domain Transfer
How Can I Protect My Trademark
Trademark holders usually register their domain names in different TLDs to protect their brand. They are also advised to register a trademark with the Trademark Clearinghouse (TMCH) — a global directory of verified trademarks for the Domain Name System (DNS).
TMCH registrants will receive priority access to reserve domain names relevant to their trademark before they are made available to the general public.
TMCH also notifies registrants attempting to register a domain name relevant to that of a TMCH trademark holder. If they register the domain name anyway, the TMCH trademark owner will be notified of the said action.
Trademark holders who successfully register their domain names with the TMCH will receive an SMD file — which is a requirement for when they register domain names during the Sunrise period.
Note: The Sunrise period is a 30-day window prior to the launching of a TLD to the general public. TMCH registrants can reserve and register domain names during this period.