The Domain Name System (DNS) enables human beings to access the internet. Disputes in domain names may arise between registrants and third parties who believe that they have rights over the domain, similarity of the domain with another person’s registered trademarks, cybersquatting, combosquatting, or using the domain name in a manner that disrupts another person’s business with the intention of profiting from someone’s trademark.
The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, (ICANN) is a private non-profit organisation, formed to control web domain name, registration, and management. Specifically, it plays a very important role in the internet infrastructure. It is responsible for Internet Protocols (the “IP”) address space allocation, Domain Name System (DNS) management, protocol parameter assignment, address space allocation and root server system management functions. It also helps in coordinating the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) whose functions are vital to the continued operations of the DNS as well as overseeing a dispute resolution mechanism over domain names.
The disputes are resolved using the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP) which is applicable across all generic Top-Level Domains (the “gTLDs”) and in some country code Top-Level Domains (the “ccTLD”) as well as the traditional domain names such as .com, .net, .org. That is, if for instance, a dispute arises regarding a domain name, the resolution of the dispute is accomplished through proceedings conducted under the UDRP by the ICANN. These proceedings are referred to as UDRP Proceedings.
The UDRP process was mainly developed to provide an efficient international means to resolve disputes through a stream-lined complaint decision format. The proceedings are administrative in nature and mirror the arbitration process. The dispute is handled by a panel and may also be handled through the ICANN accredited providers that include:
- World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO)
The WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center is an independent international and non-profit dispute resolution provider. It provides time and cost-efficient mechanisms to resolve domain name disputes without the need for the Court process. The services include the UDRP that is applicable to second level domain name registrations include but not limited to the following gTLDs: .aero, .asia, .biz, .cat, .coop, .info, .jobs, .mobi, .museum, .name, .net,.org, .pro, .tel and .travel.
- ASIAN DOMAIN DISPUTE RESOLUTION CENTRE
The centre was jointly established as a charitable institution in 2002 by the China International Economic and Arbitration Commission (CIETAC) and the Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre (HKIAC). Since the inception of ADNDRC, CIETAC, and HKIAC, the bodies have been providing domain dispute resolution services under the UDRP and other ICANN policies that include:
- Uniform Rapid Suspension System (URS)
- Registrar Transfer Dispute Resolution Policy (TDRP)
- Sunrise Dispute Resolution Policy (SDRP)
- Trademark Post Delegation Dispute Resolution Procedure (TM PDDRP)
- Charter Eligibility Dispute Resolution Policy (CEDRP)
- THE NATIONAL ADR Forum
The Forum has been administering administrative operations similar to arbitration in domain cases since 1999. It handles disputes for any ccTLD that has adopted the UDRP and several policies for countries that have adopted other similar policies. It also administers administrative hearings. The cases are processed electronically using the Forum’s online filing and case management systems.
- CZECH ARBITRATION COURT (CAC)
CAC is a non-profit organisation based in Prague. It is attached to Czech Chamber of Commerce and Czech Agrarian Chamber. It was approved by the ICANN in 2008 to be the fourth international provider of UDRP services. It received its first UNDRP gTLD disputes in 2009.
Article 1, Section 1 of the ICANN bylaws indicates that the CAC is responsible for coordination “at the overall level, the global Internet’s systems of unique identifiers, and in particular to ensure the stable and secure operations of the Internet’s unique identifier systems.” All the disputes are handled via an online platform.
- THE ARAB CENTER FOR DISPUTE RESOLUTION (ACDR)
ACDR is jointly established by the Arab Intellectual Property Mediation and Arbitration Society (AIPMAS) and the Arab Society for Intellectual property (ASIP). It is the fifth accredited center by the ICANN and was approved in 2013 as a dispute resolution service provider for the UDRP in the Arab region.
It mainly focuses on ensuring development, maintenance, management and dissemination of international legal standards and development of successful domain name dispute resolution capable of being settled by arbitrators.