Increase domain name disputes

There has been an increase with domain name disputes hitting a record high over the last 12 months, experts have said.

Legal information provider Sweet & Maxwell said that such disputes adjudicated by the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) hit 2,944 in the 12 months to July 2012, a 6% increase from 2,775 in July 2011.

“A dispute typically occur when companies find a competitor or “squatter” using their trademark in a website name. This is especially prevalent where household-name brands are concerned.”

The above was quoted from an article by the UK Press Association but as many domainers know this isn’t always the case – We are seeing more domainers being hit with UDRP from companies claiming they have rights to a domain name but they truly don’t more often than not the company claims they should be entitled to it when they have no rights to own it and simply don’t want to pay market value of the domain name which is a piece of online real estate and no domainer should be forced to sell or give up their domain.

John Olsen, partner at law firm Edwards Wildman, and editor of Domain Names: Global Practice and Procedure, published by Sweet & Maxwell, a Thomson Reuters company, said the main reason for the increase was that big brands were seeing more income from online sales.

“As online retail becomes more profitable, household name brands are taking the defence of their domain names much more seriously,” he said. “They are doing all that they can to protect their revenue streams – domain names are the key to the door of online retail.”

So far in 2012, fashion giant Gucci has been forced to bring six cases to win control of more than 100 domains, while Austrian luxury brand Swarovski alone has brought, and won, 32 cases since 2010.

Mr Olsen said: “Domain name squatting can affect high-profile individuals too. Just last month, Paris Hilton won a dispute over a domain that used her name. Boris Johnson won a case when he lost his campaign website to a squatter. Domain name cases have also been brought by many other celebrities, such as Madonna, Wayne Rooney, and Pamela Anderson.”

The number of complaints about Chinese domain name squatters has more than doubled since 2009. The United States still has the highest number of complaints made against alleged squatters, but China has risen to second place, with more than 12% of complaints.

So do you think we shall see an increase in WIPO over the next 12 months? With 141 Million TLDS registered, 2,994 WIPO doesn’t seem like a large amount it only amounts for a tiny percentage of the domains registered and with GTLDS coming into action over the next 24 months then I think we shall see a huge rise in WIPO Cases.

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