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Domain Name Disputes On The Rise

It’s fun to follow domain-name disputes. You know, like when Nutrisystem registers a grievance against some squatter who registered www.nutrisystems.com. Or when F. Hoffmann-La Roche, the creator of Valium, files a complaint against someone who registered www.prescriptionvalium.com. Or how about when The Donald takes on some dude who registered www.trumptajmahal.com?

There’s something about domain-name disputes that takes us back to those wacky dot-com days at the turn of the millennium. But did you know that these disputes are more intense now than in those days? Apparently, the number of complaints against cybersquatters by trademark owners under the “Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy” (UDRP) has grown with each passing year according to the World Intellectual Property Organization.

Doug Isenberg, an Atlanta lawyer with The GigaLaw Firm, a practice focusing on representing companies in domain-name disputes and other areas of Internet law. Mr. Isenberg, who also writes a blog on these issues called GigaLaw, credits the ever-increasing number of disputes to the continual growth of companies doing business on the Internet and the growing number of scammers.

Mr. Isenberg also serves as a WIPO panelist, where he resolves domain-name disputes filed by others. Domain disputes are filed under the eight-year-old Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (“UDRP”), a standard arbitration process for resolving competing claims to domain names. Complaints are also filed with the National Arbitration Forum, which also reported a jump in filings last year.

Though Mr. Isenberg states that there is a legal business in buying, selling and using domain names (i.e., domaining), he points out that the problem is that many “domainers” don’t understand seem to disregard intellectual-property law. This is evident in the results of WIPO arbitrations: About 85% of trademark owners triumph when they bring these complaints.

  

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