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Fair Use Registration of Domain Names for Artists and Hobbyists

There is in the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act a provision not expressly found in the UDRP (at least, not in so many words) but the concept is nevertheless present in the Policy by construction. I’ll return to the UDRP in a moment. The relevant provision in the ACPA (15 U.S.C. §1125(d)(1)(B)(ii)) reads: Bad faith intent […]

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Losing and Reclaiming Domain Names

For registrants who are not trademark owners losing their domain names can be an irretrievable loss; and for trademark owners, perhaps not irretrievable but fraught with uncertainties of recovery. ICANN attempted to solve the problem of inadvertent lapses of registration in the Expired Registration Recovery Policy (ERRP) and its companion the Expired Domain Name Deletion […]

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Astronomical Increases in Domain Names: Low Constancy of Abusive Registrations

When ICANN implemented the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP) in 1999 the number of registered domain names were in the low eight digits. Registered domain names passed the first million in 1997. Today, they are in the first third of nine digits, and continuing to grow. In its newly released publication gTLD Marketplace Health […]

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Fair Use Incorporating Trademarks in Domain Names

The paragraph 4(c)(iii) safe harbors of the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy are construed from a five word phrase, “legitimate noncommercial or fair use.” “Noncommercial” like “identical” in paragraph 4(a)(i) has a defined meaning; it does not include domain names inactively held (for any alleged purpose), although non-use is not necessarily fatal to rights […]

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Domain Names Identical to Trademarks But No Likelihood of Confusion

Confusion is a basic element in both cybersquatting and trademark infringement. It appears twice in the UDRP; once in paragraph 4(a)(i) in the adjectival phrase “confusing similarity”, and once in paragraph 4(b)(iv) in the phrase “likelihood of confusion.” Each use of the distinctive phrases is directed to a different observer. More of this in a […]

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Noteworthy Domain Name Decisions for 2016

Mr. Levine is the author of a treatise on trademarks, domain names, and cybersquatting, Domain Name Arbitration, A Practical Guide to Asserting and Defending Claims of Cybersquatting under the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy. (Legal Corner Press, 2015) and Supplement and Update (2017). Learn more about the book and Supplement at Legal Corner Press. […]

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Cyber Infringement of Trademarks by Typosquatting

A fabled, serial cybersquatter of the early Internet argued that typographical errors in domain names were not cybersquatting at all because they had their own distinct identities. Moreover, “I have” (he argued) “just as much right to own the [misspelled] Domain Names as the person who owns the correct spelling of [a] domain name.” That […]

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Statutory Remedies for UDRP Grievants

The U.S. is unusual in that grievants of a UDRP award have a statutory remedy from an adverse UDRP award, namely an action for declaratory judgement under the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act (ACPA). The action is not an appeal, but a de novo assessment of the parties’ rights, either that the domain name holder is […]

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Disputes Falling Outside the Scope of the UDRP

The UDRP is a forum of limited jurisdiction designed for trademark owners to combat a certain kind of tortious (sometimes tipping to criminal) conduct by which registrants register domain names with the bad faith intent of taking economic advantage of owner’s marks and injuring consumers by beguiling them to disclose personal information. The forum is […]

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Declaring and Declining to Find Reverse Domain Name Hijacking

What to one panelist is clearly bad faith conduct in filing a UDRP complaint, to another is excusable for lack of proof. The disagreement over reverse domain name hijacking centers on the kind of evidence necessary to justify it and the nature of the burden. RDNH is defined as “using the UDRP in bad faith […]

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Unlawful Targeting of Trademarks and Consumers in Registering Domain Names

Unlike trademark applications which go through a lengthy examination process before advancing to registration, anyone (anywhere in the world) can register a domain name identical or confusingly similar to a trademark—instantly and no questions asked, at least, in the traditional space (the legacy gTLDs)! With the new gTLDs registrants will receive notice of possible infringement […]

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Strategic Use of Screenshots from the Wayback Machine

Internet Archive contains a vast library of screenshots of websites that its Wayback Machine captures sporadically over the course of domain names’ histories. While it doesn’t compile daily images it opens a sufficient window to past use which is unique, invaluable, and free. (There are also subscription services, but they come at a hefty cost!). […]

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Earlier Registered Domain Names, Later Acquired Trademarks

The Rise of Cyber-Entrepreneurs Trademarks have a long history; domain names are of recent origin. Trademarks were “invented” to “identify and distinguish [one person’s] goods . . . from those manufactured or sold by others and to indicate the source of the goods. Domain names are merely function elements “invented” to identify and link locations […]

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Trademark Owners’ Rights to Corresponding Earlier Registered Domain Names

As I pointed out in last week’s essay, having trademark rights that come into existence later than registrations of corresponding domain names only gets complainants to first base; they have standing but no actionable claim. I also noted a nuance (not a difference in substance) in standing requirements between the UDRP and the ACPA. However, […]

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Quintessential and Other Acts of Bad Faith in Acquiring Domain Names

There are two essential differences between the UDRP and the ACPA, one procedural and one substantive. The procedural difference is quite minor, a mere quirk that Panels adopted by consensus in the early days of the UDRP and deserves no more than a footnote. Under the UDRP, complainants have standing on proof that they have […]

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To What Extent May Panels Perform Independent Research?

Panels are sworn to neutrality, but there has developed under the UDRP space for them to perform independent research “if it deems this necessary to reach the right decision” (WIPO Overview 2.0, paragraph 4.5). It ranges from the minimal such as examining official trademark databases and reviewing past history of domain names on IA’s Wayback […]

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Running the Gamut: Commentary, Criticism, Tarnishment, Disparagement, and Defamation

The two bookends of speaking one’s mind are commentary and criticism, which is indisputably acceptable as protected speech, and (in order of abuse) tarnishment and disparagement. Defamation, which is a stage beyond disparagement, is not actionable under the UDRP, although tarnishment and disparagement may be. In ICANN’s lexicon, tarnishment is limited in meaning to “acts […]

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Transfers of Domain Names Contemporaneous with Complaint: Cyberflight?

Cyberflight (defined as strategically transferring accused domain names to another registrar or registrant upon receipt of a complaint) was a sufficient irritant by 2013 for the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) to adopt recommendations to amend the Rules of the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP). Effective July 1, 2015 the […]

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Registering and Monetizing Personal Names

At the top of WIPO’s list of the most cybersquatted trademarks for 2015 (issued on March 18, 2016) is “Hugo Boss” with 62 complaints. The report also reveals that the fashion industry led other commercial sectors with 10% of complainant activity. Not surprisingly, in this sector companies (couturiers extending their services to the general public) […]

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Proving and Rebutting Respondent Lacks Rights or Legitimate Interests

Paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy requires complainants to offer evidence conclusive by itself or sufficient from which to infer that respondents lack rights or legitimate interests in the accused domain names. As I’ve pointed out in earlier essays (here and here) the standard of proof is low and relies on inference, for good reason; beyond […]

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