On March 15, 2019 WIPO has published its press release entitled “WIPO Cybersquatting Cases Grow by 12% to Reach New Record in 2018”.
By virtue of their intellectual property rights, trademark owners are granted protection against domain name registrants who reproduce or imitate their trademarks for fraudulent purposes.
As such, these Registrants may file a complaint based on WIPO’s Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP) before the Arbitration and Mediation Center in order to stop the infringement of their trademark rights. Since the Centre was set up in 1999, 42,500 complaints have been filed against 78,500 domain names.
The WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center is the leading global institution providing services for the resolution of Internet domain name disputes, and handles complaints from trademark owners around the world.
Domain name disputes before the WIPO Center may involve new generic top-level domains (new gTLDs), which represent 13% of all complaints. However, the percentage of complaints filed on the basis of former generic top-level domains (gTLDs) remains very high, for example, the percentage of complaints filed for “.com” domains reaches 73% in 2018.
This Centre is also competent to handle disputes relating to 75 country code top level domains (ccTLDs). The latter represent 15% of the complaints filed in 2018.
In 2018, 3,447 UDRP complaints were filed under the WIPO Guidelines by trademark owners, representing an increase of 12%, due to the existence of websites intended for fraudulent activities such as counterfeiting or phishing.
WIPO Director General Francis Gurry said: “Domain names involving fraud and phishing or counterfeit goods pose the most obvious threats, but all forms of cybersquatting affect consumers.”
Among the trademark right holders acting before WIPO, the most represented areas of activity are banking and finance, biotechnology and pharmaceuticals, and finally the Internet and information technology.
The largest number of complainants are in the United States with 976 complaints, followed by France with 553 complaints, followed by the United Kingdom, Germany and Switzerland.
In all, 318 Experts from 54 countries are in charge of settling disputes in accordance with WIPO’s guiding principles and demonstrating: bad faith in the use and registration of the domain name, lack of right and legitimate interest and the reproduction/imitation of a third party’s trademark.
Following the entry into force of the GDPR, and other provisions relating to the protection of personal data, access to information relating to domain name registrants via the WhoIs database is made more complicated. Thus, last year the WIPO Center published informal advices for trademark owners considering filing a UDRP complaint against a domain name. In addition, the Centre is participating in discussions with ICANN on how to access these WhoIs databases.
However, it should be noted that despite this less obvious access to information, it did not reduce the number of complaints filed last year.
This record number of complaints filed against domain names demonstrates the need for such a system, which is also proving to be effective, and is therefore essential for trademark owners whose rights are being cheated by cybersquatters.