Breaking: the first true laches UDRP decision

National Arbitration Forum panel finds case should be barred based on laches.

The doctrine of laches bars bringing a claim after an unreasonable delay in a way that unduly hurts the opposing party.

Laches started creeping into UDRP cases over the past couple years. But panels usually mention it as part of what led them to their conclusion.

Now a three person panel has decided a case based entirely on laches.

This is a big deal as there is now a big precedent to point to.

The case involved an online novelty ID store that began doing business in 1998. Now, almost 15 years later, a company claimed that it should hand over its domain name

The three person panel of Hon. Neil Anthony Brown QC, Hon. Bruce Meyerson (Ret.) and John Upchurch decided not to consider the three prongs of UDRP because the case should be barred based on the doctrine of laches.

You can read the case here.

The respondent was represented by Brett Lewis of Lewis & Lin LLC/


  1. says

    Excellent. Now we know that 14.5 years is too long to wait to file a complaint. The cases referenced in the decision mention six years. Future panels can decide where to draw the line, keeping in mind statute of limitations provisions in various jurisdictions. For example, in Ontario, Canada, many kinds of claims need to be filed within 2 years.

  2. says

    Congrats to Brett Lewis on this nice victory. Credit is also due to John Berryhill and Ari Goldberger who laid the groundwork for this decision by making strong arguments in favor of considering a laches defense in many previous responses in front of some of the same panelists.

    Now that over 10 years have passed since the UDRP procedures came into being, many disputes are arising claiming bad faith registration on domains that were registered over ten years ago. As George points out, in a “real” legal system for most claims there is a statute of limitations. Nice to see some UDRP panelists starting to recognize that laches should be recognized as a valid defense in UDRP disputes as well.

    My understanding is that one of the concepts of laches is that if you sit on your rights for too long you lose your rights.

    At some point a domain owner should be free from the concern that a company can yank a domain away from the owner by complaining about bad faith in a registration that occurred years before.

    When can a domain owner ever be secure in his/her rights to a domain? Until the laches defense is formally adopted into the UDRP the answer is ‘never’.

  3. Sloeo says

    Andrew, since parking domains had been found to be a bonafide use of a domains, and as a legit business, according to some panels, it would then seem this would fit as well, as it should.

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