NEW YORK, NY – If you’ve been keeping a watchful eye on UDRP cases lately, you’ve likely noticed some real over-reaching land grabs in action, especially those based on three character acronyms, and like me, have been watching is disappointment.
I’ve always said that one of the greatest challenges in the domain space in coming years will be growing regulation and corporate theft by those who seek to own the assets of others; assets they did not have foresight to acquire early on, however, they will attempt to swoop-in, and gobble them up, not by participation or innovation, but by law.
I predict no slowdown of these tactics and am further discouraged by finding articles such as one by attorney Kathryn K. Van Namen of Butler Snow LLP, who recently penned an article appearing in Google News on how UDRP and WIPO are a “quick and relatively inexpensive process” to go after domain names, you wish you had registered sooner.
Van Namen goes on to tell readers that the UDRP complaint process “itself is pretty simple” in her article titled “Winning The Domain Name Game: A Clear Cut Process For Protecting Your Business Or Brand From Cybersquatters”.
However, we all know too well that the UDRP process is broken and needs to be overhauled with increased oversight, transparency and realistic consequences for attempts at commit reverse domain name hijacking (RDNH) or reverse cyber-squatting as it is becoming much more common and yields no real consequence for supposed convictions of the practice.
In several areas of the article, in particular, ICANN’s three required elements to succeed in a complaint, she creatively replaces the word “registrant “with “cybersquatter”, to some extent, in my opinion, indicating or at least insinuating that anyone on the defensive end of a complaint must obviously be a cyber-squatter.
The UDRP complaint itself is pretty simple. It must include allegations that (i) the domain name is identical or confusingly similar to your trademark or service mark; (ii) the cybersquatter or registrant has no rights or legitimate interests in the domain name; and (iii) the domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.
Overall this attorney makes it seem pretty clear-cut and simple with little to nothing to lose for the complainant. Unfortunately, this is very true; being branded a “Reverse Domain Name Hijacker” is of little good to domain holders who are requirement to spend tremendously on their rightful defence.
I will close with thoughts from Brett E. Lewis, Esq:
Although domain name disputes almost invariably come down to their specific facts, it is no secret that a number of large companies use their financial resources to muscle domain names away from legitimate holders. Why is this practice so prevalent? The UDRP contains no meaningful disincentive to prevent overzealous trademark owners from filing complaints. At worst, a complainant may be named a “Reverse Domain Name Hijacker.” The threat of being so branded does not exactly strike terror into the hearts of corporate giants, and as long as some overreaching claims are successful, these claims will continue to be filed.
About The Author: John Colascione is Chief Executive Officer of Searchen Networks Inc. and Internet Advertising Inc. He specializes in Website Monetization, authored a ‘how to’ book called ‘‘Mastering Your Website’, and is a key player in several Internet related businesses through his search engine strategy company Searchen Networks®