5 Things every Domain Name Registrant (That’s You!) should know about ICANN's Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP) and Uniform Rapid Suspension (URS) system
As a registered name holder of a domain name (Registrant) you have certain rights, including the right to defend yourself if your domain name registration is being disputed or challenged under the UDRP or URS. These procedures are intended to provide trademark holders with a dispute resolution process for cybersquatting and other types of trademark-related abusive domain name registrations; however, if you believe you have registered a domain name for a legitimate use and in good faith, you are encouraged to respond to a UDRP or URS claim in a timely fashion to be sure your side of the story is heard.
- The Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP) and the Uniform Rapid Suspension (URS) system are administrative proceedings that a trademark holder may initiate against you when seeking to recover or cancel (UDRP) an allegedly cyber-squatted domain name; or to have an allegedly cyber-squatted domain name suspended (URS). The UDRP applies to domain names registered under any generic top-level domain (gTLD). The URS applies to domain names registered under a gTLD whose Registry Agreement (RA) includes such/this option. Some country code top-level domains (ccTLDs) allocated to specific countries – such as .cn to China, .in to India, etc. – have also adopted these dispute proceedings or variations of them. If your domain name being disputed is a ccTLD, contact your ccTLD manager for applicable information.
- It's important for you to remember that the burden of proof in a UDRP or URS complaint is on the filing party (the "Complainant"). There are three criteria that the Complainant must establish to succeed in a URS or UDRP case against you (the "Respondent"). The first is that they have to establish that they have trademark rights as owners of a distinctive mark and that they have used that mark. They also need to show that the domain name subject to the UDRP or URS is identical or confusingly similar to the trademark that they have rights to. They also must establish that you registered the domain name in bad faith and that you have been using it in bad faith and that you have no rights to or legitimate interests in the domain name. If you think that the complainant can't establish all three criteria against you - be sure to respond to the dispute filing and defend yourself!
- You will be notified of the commencement of these proceedings, and timing for a response, at the contact details associated with your domain name registration. This is another reason why it is so important to maintain up-to-date contact information with your registrar. You will have limited time to respond (20 days for UDRP and 14 days for URS, although an extension may be granted in some circumstances). There will be no in-person hearing (unless exceptionally determined as needed by the Panel in a UDRP case). The case will proceed to judgment even if you do not get your side of the story on record.
- An attorney is not needed to respond to a UDRP or URS; however, it may be advisable to engage an attorney on your behalf, as both processes have very specific rules. Also, an attorney may be able to provide information regarding trademark law and how best to respond and act, depending on the complaint and outcome of the proceeding.
- If the Complainant prevails, the UDRP panel will order the domain name be cancelled or transferred to the Complainant. In a URS filing, if the complainant prevails, the panel will order the domain name be suspended for the remainder of its registration period. The URS is intended to address clear cut cases of trademark infringement and, therefore, is a faster and less costly procedure than the UDRP. The filing of a URS complaint will cause the domain name to be locked for the duration of the dispute process so that no unauthorized changes can be made to the domain name registration during the proceeding.
The following documents provide additional details on the UDRP:
- Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy
- Rules for Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy
- List of Approved Dispute-Resolution Service Providers
- Information Concerning Approval Process for Dispute-Resolution Service Providers
The following documents provide additional details on the URS:
- Review the URS [PDF, 168 KB]
- Review the URS Rules [PDF, 98 KB]
- Review the URS Technical Requirements 1.0 [PDF, 649 KB]