The WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center has registered its 50,000th “cybersquatting” case after almost 21 years. WIPO had its first UDRP case in December 1999.
The Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP) is at the heart of WIPO’s anti-cybersquatting service. It was created in 1999 by WIPO, and is used by brand owners around the world to combat abuse of their trademarks in domain names.
Any domain name registered in the international domains, such as .com, is subject to this dispute resolution mechanism. Many operators of national domains, such as .ch and .io, have also been adopting this WIPO service.
Now, 20+ years later, as of November 20, 2020, WIPO had administered 50,000 UDRP-based proceedings covering almost 91,000 domain names, and involving parties from over 180 countries.
In these cases, if after review by qualified external panelists the domain name is determined to have been registered and to be used in bad faith – the practice of cybersquatting – it is transferred to the trademark-holding complainant party.
“The UDRP is an essential tool to help protect Internet users around the world against online deception and fraud,” said WIPO Director General Daren Tang. “The 50,000th case just received by WIPO shows that the UDRP system remains as relevant to global consumer protection as it was when WIPO proposed it over 20 years ago.”
The Internet domain names that have been subject of WIPO’s services span a wide range of online commerce, including many well-known brands. Examples of disputed domain names include: <hmrc-uk.com>, <godrejcareer.com>, <givebackgeico.com>, <tencentweibo.com>, <cvsheath.com>, <plfizer.com>, <facebookloginhelp.net>, <freddofrog.com>, <paypalogin.com>, <ladygaga.mobi> and <liomessi.com>.
Many domain name registration authorities have been reporting an increase in the number of domain names registered in the past few months (in the current pandemic).
The COVID-19 pandemic has fueled cybersquatting cases filed with WIPO’s Arbitration and Mediation Center, adding to the record WIPO filing seen this year. From January through October 2020, the WIPO Center handled 3,405 cases, or an 11% increase over the same period during 2019.
Commenting on the growth in WIPO case filing, Erik Wilbers, Director of the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center, said: “With a greater number of people spending more time online during the pandemic, cybersquatters are finding an increasingly target-rich environment. Rights owners, meantime, are stepping up their brand enforcement on the Internet as they further shift to marketing and selling online.”