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WIPO Kept Busy With Cybersquatting Cases

March 25, 2019

The World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) saw a record number of cybersquatting cases filed under the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP) last year.

Cybersquatting is a practice whereby a party registers a domain they are not eligible to, or does so in bad faith. You can learn more about cybersquatting (specifically in relation to Australian domain names) here.

It's not just a headache for companies, but poses a threat to their customers.

“Domain names involving fraud and phishing or counterfeit goods pose the most obvious threats, but all forms of cybersquatting affect consumers," said  WIPO Director General Francis Gurry.

Based in Geneva, Switzerland, WIPO  offers alternative dispute resolution options for resolving these sorts of domain name  issues (among other things) outside the court systems and its decisions are legally binding.

Last year, trademark owners filed a record 3,447 cases under the UDRP with WIPO, which covered 5,655 domain names. 

"WIPO’s UDRP caseload reflects the continuing need for vigilance on the part of trademark owners around the world," said Mr. Gurry.

Parties involved in complaints hailed from 109 countries, including Australia. While there were 50 cases involving Australians, this was down 15% on 2017.

As for which were the top-ranked filing countries, they were the U.S. (976 cases), followed by France (553), the U.K. (305), Germany (244), and Switzerland (193). The top sectors in relation to complaints were banking and finance, which made up 12% of all cases, followed by biotechnology and pharmaceuticals (11%) and internet and information technology (11%).

Disputes involving country code Top Level Domains (ccTLDs e.g. extensions such as .au) accounted for nearly 500 cases,representing close 15% of WIPO’s 2018 caseload. 

In Australia, there is an adaption of the UDRP called the AUDRP. You can learn more about that here. Note that while filing a UDRP/AUDRP case with WIPO may be cheaper than going to court; it still isn't free and could be beyond the reach of many small businesses.

WIPO started deciding on UDRP cases back in 1999. Since then, it has handled more than 42,500 cases involving 78,500 domain names.

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