WIPO Dispute Resolution Hits Record Level in 2010

WIPO logoIn 2010, trademark holders filed 2,696 cybersquatting cases covering 4,370 domain names with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (WIPO Center) under procedures based on the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP), an increase of 28 per cent over the 2009 level, compared to an increase in domain registrations of 6.3 per cent in 2009, and of 16 per cent over the previous record year, 2008.

The WIPO Center is the organisation that deals with the largest number of dispute resolutions dealing with domain names. The National Arbitration Forum is another.

“The WIPO Center is the leading provider of domain name dispute services and provides a rich range of resources for users and the general public. The just-released major update to the WIPO Overview is an excellent illustration of these resources and reflects the long experience of the WIPO Center,” said WIPO Director General Francis Gurry.

“The revised WIPO Overview distils panel findings in thousands of domain name cases filed with WIPO since its launch,” added Mr. Gurry.

However while the WIPO Center rightly points to the record number of disputes it has resolved, it is difficult to know if cybersquatting has reached a record level or if enforcement has hit a record level.

“While the number of cases was up, the ratio of cases to total domains registered has only been lower once in the past decade,” notes Domain Name Wire. “The spike in cases can largely be attributed to a few mass filers using trademark enforcement companies. For example, Lego filed over 100 cases with the help of Melbourne IT Digital Brand Services.”

Since the UDRP’s launch in December 1999, the WIPO Center has received over 20,000 UDRP-based cases, covering some 35,000 domain names in both generic and country code Top Level Domains (gTLDs and ccTLDs). Cases filed with WIPO in 2010 included parties from 57 countries. These cases were decided by 327 panelists from 49 countries in 13 different languages, namely (in order of frequency) English, Spanish, French, Dutch, German, Chinese, Korean, Portuguese, Italian, Turkish, Romanian, Swedish, and Japanese. In 91 per cent of cases, panels found evidence of cybersquatting, deciding in favour of complainants.

The top five areas of WIPO complainant activity were retail, banking and finance, biotechnology and pharmaceuticals, Internet and IT, and fashion . WIPO’s 2010 caseload featured well-known names from business and public interest sectors . Most of these cases (82%) concerned registrations in the .COM domain.

Among WIPO cases, the percentage related to country code Top Level Domains rose to 15 per cent of all cases in 2010 from just one per cent in 2000. National registries designating WIPO to provide domain name dispute resolution services increased to 65 in 2010 from 62 in 2009. Among the new additions, the policy for the .BR domain of Brazil is inspired by the UDRP but also imports several modifications specific to expressed local needs.

Against the background of the global emergence of domain names in local language scripts, as of October 2010, the WIPO Center is providing domain name dispute resolution services for both .AE and امارات. (dotEmarat). The United Arab Emirates now not only utilizes its existing .AE two-letter country code in Latin characters, but also the امارات. (dotEmarat) Internationalized ccTLD in Arabic script.