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What is the UDRP

What is the UDRP?

UDRP stands for Uniform Domain-Name Dispute-Resolution Policy. It is a policy that affects the registrar and the registrant or domain name holder, and governs the settlement of disputes concerning domain names on the internet. The said process was established by ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Name and Numbers) in 1999.

What is the UDRP for?

A domain is not only your address in the world wide web, but it can also serve as your trademark or brand. Due to this, a domain name is considered as one of the most important assets of a brand, company, or enterprise.

Trademarks, especially that of internationally recognisable popular brands, have great potential for high volumes of traffic. This is why some registrants pick domain names that are relevant to popular brands, even though they are not the trademark holders. When this happens, trademark holders can contest the domain name registration. This is where the UDRP come in.

If you want to check the relevant gTLDs covered by the UDRP, the list can be found here.

What is Cybersquatting?

Cybersquatting is the malicious practice of registering domain names that are relevant or related to famous brands or trademarks. Registrants who do this most often intend to use the domain names for profit by reselling them at a higher price or using them for their good reputation or branding.

How does the UDRP process work?

When a registered trademark holder finds a registered domain name with a gTLD that is relevant to their brand, they can file a domain dispute claim or complaint with any Dispute Resolution Service Providers authorised by ICANN.

  1. A trademark holder chooses a UDRP provider and files an official complaint with them. In order to find the registrant of the domain name in the dispute claim, you may check the WHOIS database for this.

    If the submitted complaint complied with all the UDRP rules and supplementary rules set by the provider, the case will move forward. However, if the complainant was unable to follow a rule or meet a requirement, the complaint will be deemed insufficient. The complainant will have only 5 days to comply with all the established rules and requirements or the complaint will be rejected.

    If you want to know how to check registrant information in the WHOIS database, click here.

  2. When the complaint is deemed sufficient and is accepted by the provider, complainant will have about 3 days to send a copy to the registrar where the disputed domain is registered. It will be the complainant’s prerogative to send a copy to the respondent or not.
    Important Note: Upon receiving a copy of the complaint, respondents may attempt to delay proceedings by transferring the domain to a new registrar. This tactic is called cyberflight.

    In an attempt to discourage this tactic, the UDRP has amended their rules. Registrars will now be requested to lock the domain name mentioned in the complaint within 2 days of receiving a verification request regarding Registrant's information from the Provider.

  3. Once the proceeding has started, the respondent will have exactly 20 days to respond to the complaint and offer their counterargument for retaining the disputed domain name. If the respondent is unable to comply within those 20 days, he or she will be assumed to have defaulted and ruling will automatically be for the complainant.

  4. Once the respondent sends his or her response, the provider will have 5 days to choose a panel to work on the case.

  5. Once a panel has been chosen, the members will have 14 days to study, discuss, and decide on the case or complaint.

  6. Once a decision has been made, the panel has 3 days to inform all the parties involved in the complaint.

  7. Once the parties involved have been informed of the panel’s decision and it 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 or domain name registrant has not filed anything to argue the ruling, the registrar will then comply with the panel’s decision and implement the remedy the complainant has requested.

    Three possible resolutions of a Domain-Name Dispute:

    • Agreement
    • Court Action
    • Arbitration

    If the panel has decided in favour of the complainant, here are three possible actions registrars can do to a domain name involved in a Domain-Name Dispute:

    • Cancel it
    • Suspend it
    • Transfer it

Domain-Name complaints can only be submitted to Dispute Resolution Service Providers approved by ICANN. Below is the current list:

Important Note: When filing complaints, complainants should make sure to review not just the general rules established by the UDRP, but also the supplemental rules set by their chosen UDRP Provider. This way, complainants can be sure the complaint they submit fully complies with all necessary rules and regulations, and will not just be dismissed cursorily.

How do you protect your trademark in cyberspace?

Many trademark holders, especially big brands, make a point of registering domain names with different gTLDs to safeguard their trademark. Many also register their trademark with the Trademark Clearinghouse (TMCH). This is so they would be notified when there is a new gTLD and be able to register the domain names relevant to their trademark before the new gTLD becomes available to the general public.

Business entities or trademark holders receive an SMD file when they successfully register their trademarks with the TMCH, and this is what trademark holders need when they register domains during the Sunrise period.

If you want to know more about what is an SMD file, click here.

If you want to know what is a domain lock, click here.

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