World Intellectual Property Organization

Cybersquatting Cases Up in 2015, Driven by New gTLDs

Geneva, March 18, 2016
PR/2016/789

Amid the roll-out of hundreds of new generic Top-Level Domains (gTLDs) such as .GURU, .NINJA and .NYC, trademark owners filed 2,754 cases under the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP) with WIPO in 2015, an increase of 4.6 % over the previous year.

Videos: Highlights Video/YouTube | Press Conference Video/YouTube

Cybersquatting disputes relating to new gTLDs accounted for 10.5% of WIPO’s UDRP caseload in 2015, which covered a total of 4,364 domain names.  Among these names, .XYZ, .CLUB and .EMAIL were the most common new gTLDs (Annex 1 PDF, Annex 1: All gTLDs (Ranking) in WIPO Cases: 2015).

Infographic: Who filed
the most domain name
cases in 2015? PDF, Who Filed the Most Domain Name Cases in 2015?

WIPO Director General Francis Gurry said:  “As brand owners face the possibility of further abuse of their trademarks in domains - both old and new - they continue to rely on WIPO’s cybersquatting dispute resolution procedures.  By combating opportunistic domain name registration practices, WIPO’s services help consumers to find authentic web content and enhance the reliability of the Domain Name System.”

Country code Top-Level Domains (ccTLDs) accounted for 13.7% of all filings with WIPO in 2015, with 71 national domain registries designating this WIPO dispute resolution service.

WIPO UDRP cases in 2015 involved parties from 113 countries.  The U.S., with 847 cases filed, was the first-ranked WIPO filing country, followed by France (337), Germany (272), the U.K. (229) and Switzerland (169). (Annex 2 PDF, Annex 2: Geographical Distribution of Parties in WIPO Domain Name Cases
Top 25 (2015)) Among the top five users, Germany (+48.6%) saw the highest growth in cases filed.

The top three sectors of complainant activity were fashion (10% of all cases), banking and finance (9%), and Internet and IT (9%). (Annex 3 PDF, Annex 3: Areas of WIPO Domain Name Complainant Activity (2015)) Hugo Boss leads the list of filers – 62 cases – followed by Philip Morris (60) and AB Electrolux (48). (Annex 4 PDF, Annex 4: Top 10 WIPO Domain Name Case Filing Parties (2015);  Sample of WIPO Domain Name Cases (2015)) 313 WIPO panelists from 45 countries were appointed in 2015, and proceedings were administered in 15 different languages.

WIPO Director General Francis Gurry and Director of WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center Erik Wilbers present the Organization’s 2015 arbitration and mediation activities at a press conference at the United Nations Office in Geneva (photo: WIPO).

The increase in new gTLD registrations in WIPO’s caseload is anticipated to continue, in particular as new gTLDs contested at Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) auction, such as “.SHOP”, are yet to launch.  Meanwhile, calls are being made for a next round of new gTLDs, particularly by brand owners, such as Twitter.  At the same time, ICANN has commenced a process to review Rights Protection Mechanisms such as the URS (Uniform Rapid Suspension system) and the UDRP.  As the UDRP initiator and leading administrator, WIPO takes a strong interest in these ICANN processes.

Since the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center administered the first UDRP case in 1999, total WIPO case filings passed the 33,000 mark in 2015, encompassing over 61,000 domain names (Annex 5 PDF, Annex 5: Total Number of WIPO Domain Name Cases
and Domain Names by Year).

Intellectual Property Disputes

For intellectual property disputes more broadly, the WIPO Center has updated the WIPO Mediation Rules to facilitate submission of a dispute to mediation in cases where there is no prior mediation agreement between the parties.  Effective as of January 1, 2016, these provisions may be particularly suitable for cases in which a court encourages mediation.

Also in 2015, the WIPO Center published the WIPO Guide on Alternative Dispute Resolution Options for Intellectual Property Offices and Courts PDF, WIPO Guide on Alternative Dispute Resolution Options for Intellectual Property Offices and Courts. Informed by WIPO Center experience in this area, this Guide provides a broad overview of ADR for intellectual property disputes and presents options for interested Intellectual Property Offices (IPOs), courts and other bodies (before which intellectual property disputes are adjudicated) to integrate ADR processes into their existing services.

In 2015, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) included the WIPO Center among listed ADR providers available at the option of parties to administer disputes before the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) and the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB).

Background

WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center

Based in Geneva, Switzerland, with an office in Singapore, the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center offers Alternative Dispute Resolution options for the resolution of international commercial disputes between private parties.  The arbitration, mediation and expert determination procedures provided by the WIPO Center are recognized as particularly appropriate for technology, entertainment and other disputes involving IP.  The WIPO Center is also the global leader in the provision of domain name dispute resolution services under the WIPO-designed UDRP, receiving cases from trademark owners from around the world.

About WIPO

The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) is the global forum for intellectual property policy, services, information and cooperation. A specialized agency of the United Nations, WIPO assists its 188 member states in developing a balanced international IP legal framework to meet society's evolving needs. It provides business services for obtaining IP rights in multiple countries and resolving disputes. It delivers capacity-building programs to help developing countries benefit from using IP. And it provides free access to unique knowledge banks of IP information.

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