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What cybersquatting is and how to combat it is something all modern-day trademark holders need to understand, especially with the continued global expansion of the internet. Simply put, cybersquatting is when a domain name is registered for trademark, often a well-known mark, by someone other than the owner of the trademark who intends to abuse or misuse the domain name, usually for monetary gain.
It was such a rampant problem during the 1990’s that the newly created governing body known as the “Internet Corporation for the Assignment of Names and Numbers” (ICANN) adopted the Uniform Domain Name Resolution Policy (UDRP) as a way to resolve disputes involving cybersquatting without having to go through court, instead using arbitration. The great thing about the UDRP is that it is a quick process designed to resolve disputes that involve the abuse of a registered domain name.
How does the UDRP deal with cybersquatting and the remedy it provides? If the Administrative Panel, which decides a UDRP complaint, finds for the trademark holder than it would require that the domain name is canceled or transferred over to the trademark holder. The URDP provides many advantages over going to court. The UDRP provides a faster and cheaper way to resolve a dispute and it is less formal than court, allowing for a trademark holder to get down to the nitty gritty and avoid the theatrics of court.
Depending on the case it may take somewhere between 75 to 90 days to have the issue resolved. One way that helps strengthen the process is that the decision-makers are experts in such areas as international trademark law, domain name issues, electronic commerce, the Internet and dispute resolution. Instead of having judges who may not be as informed about the issue when the issue is taken to court. There is also an international scope to UDRP, the registrar or the domain name holder or the complainant can be located internationally provided there is proper service of process.
There are, however, limitations as to who can bring up a complaint. ICANN has made it clear that the UDRP Administrative Procedure is only available to resolve disputes between a third party alleging a registrar abuse relating to a domain name. Meaning that the domain-name holder is not allowed to bring up a UDRP complaint against a third party, such as a trademark holder.
With this procedure, trademark holders are better equipped to deal with cyber-squatters and to protect their brands. Owning a valid brand trademark is an important step in battling with a cyber-squatter.