ICANN has set up a procedure for resolving disputes between the owners of trade marks and the registrants of domain names. This is the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP), approved in August 1999. The UDRP applies in the three open gTLDs, as well as in some ccTLDs (currently 18 out of 243). It also applies to all of the new gTLDs such as .info, .biz.
The decision of the Court of Appeal on One in a Million in England has made the position regarding cybersquatting quite certain. Even if a trade mark owner has not registered its trade mark, he can assert his rights in the domain name by proving that he has some rights in the domain name. Such rights can be based on the fact that the trade mark has been used for his business or trade. The trade mark owner can also rely on the common law's 'passing-off' remedy to assert his rights on the domain name.
The UDRP has given a even more flexible approach towards the resolution of a domain name dispute. A complainant must first have rights in a trade mark which is confusingly similar to the domain name complained of, and he has to prove that the owner of the name has no rights or legitimate interest in it and that it was registered in bad faith.
Up to early 2001, there have been over 2500 decisions resolved according to the UDRP. It costs a complainant $1500 to file a single complaint and a decision will be issued about 7 weeks after that. There are four organisations who are authorised to adjudicate the disputes under UDRP:
· World Intellectual Property Organisation in Switzerland,
· National Arbitration Forum in US
· CPR Institute for Dispute Resolution in US, and
Disputes.org/eResolution Consortium in Canada.