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Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy Turns 20

October 18, 2019

The Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP) has been with us for nearly two decades - it turns 20 on October 24. So, what is it?

It was back in October 24, 1999 when the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) board adopted a set of rules relating to the legal framework for resolving disputes between a domain name registrant and a third party claiming the registration is abusive. Examples of abuse include infringing on that third party's trademark in order to engage in behaviour including "cybersquatting",selling counterfeit goods or engaging in phishing or malware attacks.

Any person or company can file a complaint concerning a generic Top Level Domain (gTLD) using the UDRP Administrative Procedure. Pursuing complaints via a UDRP is significantly cheaper and often much faster than through court action. Cases are examined by the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO)- a self-funding agency of the United Nations - and its decisions are legally binding.

The UDRP has certainly seen plenty of use. According to WIPO, total case filings bypassed the 42,500 mark in 2018; involving more than 78,500 domain names. Just last year, trademark owners filed a record 3,447 cases under the UDRP with WIPO’s Arbitration and Mediation Center.

Does The UDRP Cover .AU Domains?

In 2000, WIPO launched its country code Top Level Domain (ccTLD) program and today, dozens of countries are covered - including Australia's .au. The UDRP for Australia is known as the auDRP and was first adopted by the Board of auDA on 13 August 2001.

The rules for the .AU Dispute Resolution Policy (Schedule B of auDRP) can be viewed here, and supplemental rules here.

The cost of filing a complaint under the auDRP for a single domain name registration currently ranges from $2,000 for a one-member panel decision to $4,500 for a 3-member panel. Dozens of panelists able to decide on .au domain disputes are listed here.

At the time of writing, 23 WIPO UDRP decisions had been made in relation to Australian domain name registrations so far this year, with some of those decisions covering multiple names.

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