URS lacks foresight.
Yesterday the comment period for Uniform Rapid Suspension closed at ICANN. URS is a cheaper and (supposedly) faster version of UDRP, with a few twists.
But given all of the holes in URS, I have to wonder if anyone has really thought this idea through. Yes, people that worked on URS will say they have, but many of them have ulterior motives.
I found National Arbitration Forum’s comments on URS particularly interesting, since it looked at URS through a procedural view. I caught up with NAF’s Internet Legal Counsel Kristine Dorrain to get an expanded view into the difficulties.
“There’s a huge procedural problem in the timeline,” explained Dorrain. “It doesn’t save anybody time. The Examiner is supposed to have less time, but they’re making the decision.” Dorrain points out that the panelist is the last person you want to put under time pressure.
That sort of takes the “rapid” out of Uniform Rapid Suspension.
Another issue Dorrain points to is also an issue in URDP, and that is the language of the dispute. Dorrain explains the issue in her letter to ICANN.
Another big supposed benefit to URS is the cost. It should be lower than the UDRP. But the URS process actually has more steps and administrative burden than UDRP, Dorrain said.
“Everything I’ve read says the URS is supposed to be drastically cheaper,” said Dorrain. “They want providers to slash fees to 25%…if you’re adding touch points, I don’t think you’ll be able to reduce costs.”
Another issue is that the respondent has two years in which to reopen a case that was defaulted against them. What happens if the panelist that was initially assigned to the case (and paid) isn’t available when a case is reopened? Will the respondent’s nominal fee to reopen the case include an additional fee for the panelist?
Of course there’s one other big issue that Dorrain doesn’t address in her letter: what happens to domain names when they are won.
With URS, the domain is merely suspended until it expires. Then it’s freely registrable by anyone (although the complainant can pay to renew it for one year to delay the inevitable). If the domain gets traffic, it’s likely someone else will pick it up when it expires. Just look at what has happened with UDRP. A 2009 study by CSC shows that 7,000 domain names that were won during UDRP later expired. Many of those domains were re-registered by other parties. In fact, CSC found that some complainants had filed cases for the same domain up to three times.
Is URS dead on arrival? Are all parties pushing it through just to quell the anger of trademark interests? My take is a number of parties are cleverly praising URS as a solution to trademark interests’ concerns — even though it has little value in practice.
Don’t get me wrong, though. I’m not in favor of bandaging UDRP by introducing URS. Instead, UDRP should be re-evaluated to fix problems on both sides (complainant and respondent) of the table.