WIPO saw another record year in domain name dispute filings, administering nearly 6,200 complaints in 2023, an over 7% increase from 2022 and a 68% increase since the onset of the COVID pandemic.
These case numbers show that the WIPO‑designed UDRP continues to be an important tool for brand owners to fight abuse on the Internet. Trademark owners from around the world filed a record of a total of 6,192 cases in 2023 under the UDRP and national variations. The top filing country locations were the United States of America, France, and the United Kingdom.
This surge pushed WIPO cybersquatting cases to a total of 67,625 cases since the creation of the UDRP, reflecting a clear trend in the past 10 years of continuing growth.
This increase is the result of a number of factors, including: an overall growth in domain name registrations, a greater awareness of the UDRP by companies of all sizes, and the evolving nature of cybersquatting activities. Above all, the UDRP remains an attractive alternative to filing court cases across jurisdictions.
In recent years, cases involved not only traditional “cybersquatting” but increasingly were used to tackle fraud, malware and phishing attacks using domain names, as well as counterfeits, and unlicensed pharmaceuticals scenarios. Representative case summaries are provided below.
Transfer remains the dominant outcome, and Parties settled about 14% of cases which means in those cases that the filing party receives a $1,000 refund.
Procedures were conducted in 17 languages, the top 10 order being: English, Chinese, French, Spanish, Russian, Japanese, Turkish, German, Portuguese, and Swedish.
Cases filed covered nearly every industry, with the top sectors being banking and finance, biotechnology and pharmaceuticals, fashion, and retail.
While the majority of cases involved the well-known “.com” domain (80% of WIPO cases), WIPO saw increases in filings for the country code Top-Level Domains (ccTLDs) of .AI (Anguilla), .AU (Australia), .CN (China), .EU (European Union), .MA (Morocco), and .MX (Mexico).
In 2023, WIPO began accepting cases for the .GA (Gabon), and .MG (Madagascar) ccTLDs.
The top 10 ccTLDs in 2023 in terms of filings generally were .CO (Colombia), .CN (China), .MX (Mexico), .AU (Australia), .AI (Anguilla), .EU (European Union), .IO (British Indian Ocean Territory), .FR (France), .NL (Netherlands (Kingdom of the)), and .ES (Spain).
With a unique body of UDRP case law covering nearly 25 years, WIPO has produced a summary of key consensus positions of experts appointed to decide UDRP cases. Provided online and free-of-charge, the WIPO Jurisprudential Overview is now in its Third Edition. Bringing predictability to this online system of law, this essential WIPO resource is cited in most WIPO case pleadings and panel decisions.
Calvin Klein v. haisong huanghaisong
WIPO Case No. DAI2023-0017,
Representing one of more than 50 cases under the newly-popular .AI ccTLD in 2023, this case addressed a domain name that matched the famous CALVIN KLEIN trademark, but in which the registrant claimed the domain name was descriptive, unaffiliated with any company or trademark, and a personal name. Despite these “disclaimers” because the domain name was identical to the famous CALVIN KLEIN trademark, the WIPO Panel found that the Respondent was clearly aware of the Complainant and the disclaimer was merely an unsuccessful attempt to provide the Respondent with plausible deniability when its real intention was likely to sell the domain name at a profit.
Leonardo DiCaprio v. Vasilij hcvlsdhifj
WIPO Case No. D2023-1576,
Famous American actor and film producer Leonardo DiCaprio operates the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, known as LDC Foundation, to support innovative projects that protect vulnerable wildlife from extinction. DiCaprio had registered the <ldcfoundation.org> domain name but it mistakenly lapsed in 2022. The disputed domain name redirected to a website with references to the LDC Foundation as well as reproducing copyright-protected materials taken from the LDC Foundation’s official website. In finding in favor of DiCaprio, the WIPO Panel found that by snapping up the domain name after DiCaprio mistakenly allowed it to lapse, the registrant was guilty of opportunistic bad faith and that any such use by the new registrant would be inherently misleading.
Meta Platforms, Instagram v. Ali Burak Yay, Bm bilisim
WIPO Case No. D2023-2082,
<facebookhesap.com> et al.
Meta and Instagram filed against the operator of three domain names offering accounts (in Turkish “hesap” means “accounts”) and followers and “likes” for Meta and Instagram services for sale. The WIPO Panel considered “consolidation” arguments that the registrants were either the same and acting under aliases or were acting in cooperation with one another. Meta also presented arguments concerning the Language of Proceedings for the case to be heard in English. Because of commonalities in the websites and communications from one registrant in English, and noting that the Respondents shared a common address, the WIPO Panel found the consolidation was appropriate and that English would not be prejudicial to the registrants and thus proceeded to issue a decision in English in Meta’s favor.
C&J Clark v. Barth, et al.
WIPO Case No. D2023-2969,
<clarksobuwie-pl.org> et al.
This noteworthy case involved the request to consolidate 430 domain names into one case, the largest case filed with WIPO in 2023. Despite the use of multiple aliases, the WIPO Panel found consolidation was proper for all except one disputed domain name that reflected unique content, and a different registration date and IP address as compared to the remaining 429 domain names. Accordingly, the WIPO Panel proceeded with consideration of the substantive merits under the UDRP and found in favor of the Complainant, preventing the need for the Complainant to file more than 400 individual complaints and saving substantial resources.
Presonate Zrt. v. Abhijit Mhetre
WIPO Case No. D2023-1106,
In this case, a Hungarian company offering consulting services founded in 2019 was unable to reclaim a domain name registered in 2011 and offering up pay-per-click advertisements unrelated to the Complainant’s business. Because the domain name was registered before the Complainant came into existence, this was a case the WIPO Panel determined had no basis to be filed. The WIPO Panel dismissed arguments that the renewal of the domain name should alter this analysis, as is the standard approach in such cases; because the case was one the WIPO Panel said had no chance of success based on the law, the Complainant was found to have engaged in reverse domain name hijacking.
W.W. Grainger v. Micheal Joe
WIPO Case No. D2023-4090, <graingerlnc.com>
Reflecting a growing trend online, UDRP cases have increasingly dealt with the use of domain names for fraud and phishing, and also impersonation of the brand owner or its employees. In this case, the registrant impersonated a senior executive of the W.W. Grainger company, requesting payment of allegedly overdue accounts. The WIPO Panel did not hesitate to find bad faith on the part of the registrant and the Complainant was able to reclaim the domain name and prevent further harm to the public.