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 Chilling Effects Clearinghouse > UDRP > Frequently Asked Questions Printer-friendly version

Frequently Asked Questions (and Answers) about UDRP

  • Q: What is the UDRP?
  • Q: What’s in it for me?
  • Q: Why not go to court?
  • Q: How was I supposed to know that my domain violates somebody else
  • Q: Why do trademarks get such special protection?
  • Q: Isn
  • Q: How can I lose a domain registration in a UDRP?
  • Q: What is a protectable "right or legitimate interest" in a domain name?
  • Q: What is "bad faith" registration or use?
  • Q: Who are the UDRP "Providers"?
  • Q: Who are the UDRP "Panelists"?
  • Q: What are the consequences of the proceeding?
  • Q: What is Reverse Domain Name Hijacking?
  • Q: Can a domain name holder bring a UDRP complaint to establish his or her right to the domain name?
  • Q: Where can I get more information?
  • Q: Where can I find the text of the UDRP?

    Question: What is the UDRP?

    Answer: The Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (

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    Question: What’s in it for me?

    Answer: If you are a trademark owner, the UDRP may provide a faster, cheaper, and easier alternative to filling your complaint with a court of law. If you are a domain name holder, you became bound by ICANN's UDRP when you registered the domain name. The Registration Agreement (to which you agreed with a mouse click) incorporates the UDRP. Therefore, if your domain name is later challenged, you must submit to a "mandatory administrative proceeding" to determine rights to the domain. It does not matter whether the trademark owner and domain name holder live in different countries. Your domain registrar (from whom you obtained the domain) has the power and obligation to enforce the decision of the UDRP Panel. If you refuse to participate, the proceeding may continue without you and your domain could be cancelled or transferred without your input.

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    Question: Why not go to court?

    Answer: As mentioned above, the UDRP is supposed to provide a faster, cheaper, and easier alternative to challenging domain names in courts of law. Unless the domain holder fails to appear in court, it is likely that the UDRP proceeding will take less time (about 6 weeks). UDRP proceedings generally cost less (as little as $750) since the dispute resolution Providers charge a flat fee and since the costs of hiring a lawyer (if you choose to use one) will generally be less because the types of documents used in UDRP proceedings require less time to prepare. The UDRP procedures are supposed to be simple enough that an average person would not need legal assistance. There is no charge to the domain holder, unless s/he requests a 3-person Panel or opts to hire an attorney. An important advantage of the UDRP over courts is that courts can only enforce their orders within their own territories. The UDRP can be enforced against all domain holders in .com, .org, .net. .biz and .info, regardless of where they live.

    Of course, nothing in the UDRP prevents either the trademark owner or the domain name holder from choosing to go to court before, during, or after the UDRP proceeding. You just have to let the Panel know if you have begun court action so the Panel can decide whether to postpone the proceeding or so that the Registrar won

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    Question: How was I supposed to know that my domain violates somebody else

    Answer: It is the domain name registrant

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    Question: Why do trademarks get such special protection?

    Answer: Consumers reap the benefit when trademarks are protected. By preventing anyone but the actual mark owner from labeling goods with the mark, it helps prevent consumers getting cheated by shoddy knock-off imitators. It encourages mark owners to maintain quality goods so that customers will reward them by looking for their label as an indication of excellence. Consumers as well as mark owners benefit from trademark laws.

    Trademark owners spend a lot of time, money, and effort to protect the distinctiveness of their trademark. Once trademarks have become diluted to the point where the general public no longer recognizes them as distinctly applying to a particular manufacturer, they lose their value to the trademark owner because they no longer attract customers to his particular goods. For example,

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    Question: Isn

    Answer: Yes, as long as you have registered and used the domain name in good faith or have legitimate interests in the domain name. However, you have no right to violate trademark law, or ignore your Registration Agreement, or engage in cybersquatting just because you registered the name first.

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    Question: How can I lose a domain registration in a UDRP?

    Answer: The trademark owner must prove three things: (1) that s/he has a trademark right that is identical or confusingly similar to your domain, (2) that you have no right or legitimate interest in the domain name, and (3) that you registered and used the domain in bad faith.

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    Question: What is a protectable "right or legitimate interest" in a domain name?

    Answer: If the domain holder has a right or legitimate interest in the domain name, then s/he is entitled to keep it, under the UDRP. The Policy gives some examples of rights and legitimate interests, but the contestants and Panelists may develop others. The Policy recognizes a right if (a) you are commonly known by the domain name (as a personal or business name), (b) if you are using it for legitimate noncommercial or fair uses without intent to mislead consumers or tarnish the mark owner (for example if the term is being used to generically describe what the website is about, such as

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    Question: What is "bad faith" registration or use?

    Answer: Facts that are considered as evidence of bad faith are described in the UDRP Policy. They include acquiring the domain name primarily for the purpose of selling or renting it to the mark owner (or the mark owner

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    Question: Who are the UDRP "Providers"?

    Answer: The Providers are organizations that have been approved by ICANN to resolve UDRP
    disputes. The four are: World Intellectual Property Organization ("WIPO"); eResolution Consortium ("eRes"); the National Arbitration Forum ("NAF"); and CPR Institute for Dispute Resolution ("CPR"). Since the trademark owner chooses the Provider, the trademark owner should be aware that the Providers differ in some respects. For example, each one may have its own supplemental rules, charge different fees, or have different page restrictions for the complaint and response. Relative to each other, some providers are statistically more inclined to favor the trademark owner.

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    Question: Who are the UDRP "Panelists"?

    Answer: The Panelists "judge" the UDRP disputes and determine what happens to the domain name. They include practicing attorneys, law professors, and former judges. Each Provider maintains a list of eligible panelists and their qualifications. Panelists are required to be impartial. However, panelists may have certain biases (such as those who interpret the Policy conservatively to restrict its use to specific types of cybersquatting), so parties may wish to research the statistics on how any given panelist has decided disputes in the past. Such information is available at http://www.UDRPinfo.com.

    If neither the trademark owner nor the domain name holder has elected a three-member Panel the Provider chooses a single Panelist from its list of panelists. If either the trademark owner or the domain name holder chooses to have the dispute decided by a three-member Panel, then the parties themselves have a voice in the selection of the Panelists. In these cases, the Provider chooses one Panelist from the trademark owner

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    Question: What are the consequences of the proceeding?

    Answer: The Panel may cancel a domain name or order the transfer of the registration to the trademark owner or decide to leave the registration with the domain holder. If it cancels the domain registration, the domain will go back on the market for anyone to grab, so this is not an option that most trademark owners would request. If the domain name holder loses, the Registrar will wait 10 business days before implementing the Panel

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    Question: What is Reverse Domain Name Hijacking?

    Answer: Trademark owners may not file complaints just to harass domain name holders. Under the Policy, trademark owners who file complaints in bad faith are said to have engaged in "Reverse Domain Name Hijacking." It is considered an abuse of the administrative proceeding and the Panel can enter such a finding in the record to warn others about such a trademark owner.

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    Question: Can a domain name holder bring a UDRP complaint to establish his or her right to the domain name?

    Answer: No. Only mark owners can start a UDRP proceeding. A domain holder must file for a protective restraining order or declaratory judgement in a court of law.

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    Question: Where can I get more information?

    Answer: The following websites provide basic information related to the UDRP:


    The UDRP Policy: http://www.icann.org/udrp/udrp-policy-24oct99.htm
    The UDRP Rules of Procedure: http://www.icann.org/udrp/udrp-rules-24oct99.htm
    Asian Domain Name Dispute Resolution Centre: http://www.hkiac.org/main.html
    CPR Institute for Dispute Resolution: http://www.cpradr.org/home1.htm
    The National Arbitration Forum: http://www.arbforum.com/
    World Intellectual Property Organization http://arbiter.wipo.int/domains/

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    Question: Where can I find the text of the UDRP?

    Answer: The Uniform Domain-Name Dispute-Resolution Policy is at http://www.icann.org/udrp/udrp.htm. The UDRP Rules are at http://www.icann.org/udrp/udrp-rules-24oct99.htm. Each UDRP Provider has additional Supplemental Rules which are linked from the ICANN UDRP page at http://www.icann.org/dndr/udrp/ where there are also links to the large body of UDRP Panelist opinions interpreting the UDRP and materials on the history of the procedure.

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