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Trademark Group Pushes Rapid Domain Takedown Scheme

Group submits final report to ICANN.

Implementation Recommendation Team (IRT), an ad hoc group put together to represent trademark interests in the launch of new top level domains, has issued its final report (pdf). The report will be discussed at ICANN’s next meeting in Sydney.

The part that seems most relevant to domain investors is the Uniform Rapid Suspension system (URS). Think of it as a fast track UDRP for obvious trademark cases. Here are few of my observations:

1. I’m not surprised that IRT capitulated and decided that existing UDRP providers (such as National Arbitration Forum) can handle both URS and UDRP cases. The first draft of the report recommended that the URS provider must be different since it would create a conflict of interest as UDRP cases pay much more than URS. This would kill the UDRP provider’s business as they make their gravy with simple UDRP cases. IRT now says that UDRP providers can also be URS providers, although they may have to refer a URS case to an alternative UDRP provider if it advances.

Even with this change, it will drastically cut revenues at the arbitration groups. Expect them to fight URS and instead try to reform UDRP, perhaps be lowering fees when a respondent doesn’t submit a response.

2. Companies that win a URS will not get ownership of the domain name. This hasn’t changed from the first draft but has been clarified. Essentially a company that wants an infringing domain taken down can use URS, but if it wins then the domain will simply resolve to an error page. This will hopefully limit cases of reverse domain name hijacking through URS.

3. IRT’s recommendations are such a drastic change from how the system works today that it should be given lots of thought and consultation with all constituents. This could literally take a year or two through standard ICANN practices. If people are worried that “doing it right” will slow down the launch of new TLDs, then the more radical portions of IRT’s recommendations should be delayed until after new TLDs launch. Registry and registrar contracts could still include provisions for abiding by future trademark policy changes.

The comment period for the final report is open through June 29, 2009.

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    • Andrew Allemann says

      “I wonder what would happen if, for example, the Complainant decides 1 year after winning that it wishes to use the domain?”

      It would have to file a more expensive UDRP if it wanted to use the domain.

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