Sociology Index

Domain Name Disputes

WIPO Domain Name Domain Name Disputes Case Law

Internet Domain Name System (DNS) was designed for locating machines on the Internet by mapping between human-friendly mnemonic names and their underlying (IP) addresses. Even where trademarks are not registered the companies have been able to receive favourable awards by proving that they have obtained trademark rights in the names used in domain names. Domain name disputes arise when cybersquatters register domain names that are identical to or are similar to the trademarks, tradenames or service mark of companies.

Dispute Resolution Procedures providers have held that a person has common law rights in his/her name and have in a large number of cases ordered the transfer of domain. Till recently cybersquatters registered domain names that were similar to the names/trademarks of companies and names of well-known individuals.

Registering the ad-lines of companies as domain names is a common practice now. But the question is whether a company has rights in such ad-lines. The companies have to establish their rights in such ad-lines and the corresponding domain names.

Under the ICANN Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy, which governs the resolution of domain name disputes the Complainant must prove that:

A person has to prove that he has trademark rights in the mark that has been registered as a domain name; and

The domain name in issue is identical or similar to a trade mark or service mark in which the complainant has rights; and

The respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the domain name; and

The domain name has been registered in bad faith.

A person may acquire trademark rights in a mark through registration of such marks, or he may establish rights to a mark through use, which are referred to as common law rights.