The cybersquatting policy works almost all of the time. Here’s how to stop most bad cases in their tracks.
A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a post entitled simply “UDRP works.” I explained that UDRP does exactly what it was designed to do in the vast majority of cases: quickly and affordably resolve clear-cut cases of cybersquatting.
Of course, vast majority doesn’t mean all. UDRP panels sometimes get cases wrong. And even when they correctly find for the Respondent, domain name owners have to hire a lawyer to defend their domain.
So it works, but it could be even better. Hence my contradictory headline for this story.
I review hundreds of UDRP decisions every year. From what I’ve seen, adding a simple step to the UDRP process would eliminate the vast majority of bad cases. So eliminating the vast majority of bad cases, adding to the vast majority of easily-decided cases, and UDRP would be darn-near (but not quite!) perfect.
Where many Complainants go wrong is thinking they have rights to a domain name because they have a trademark even though the domain registrant acquired the domain before they got trademark rights. This could be cleared up with an explanatory note in UDRP instructions with this added question:
Do you claim trademark rights to this domain name that pre-date the domain owner’s registration of the domain name?
There are some outlier cases in which trademark rights don’t need to pre-date the registration, such as when a company’s new product or product name is highly anticipated or mentioned in the press. But most of the time, this question would do the trick. It would eliminate most ill-conceived cases that result in reverse domain name hijacking findings.
If this still doesn’t stop the bad filings, an added step could be to make filers pay a deposit if their answer to the question is ‘no’. They will forfeit this deposit to the domain name owner if they lose the case.
These common-sense changes would make UDRP better. It would still allow valid cybersquatting complaints to be quickly and cheaply resolved while also protecting valuable domain assets from spurious claims.