One might think that as the Internet matures, domain name disputes might dissipate. Not so!
Indeed, an all-time record 2,764 cybersquatting cases pertaining to 4,781 domain names were filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (WIPO) in 2011.
These filings were made in accordance with procedures based on the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP) and represent an increase of 2.5% and 9.4%, respectively, above previous record levels in 2010 and 2009.
Amazingly, since the launch of the UDRP in late 1999, WIPO has been the recipient of more than 22,500 UDRP-related cases. These cases have addressed more than 40,500 domain names.
Furthermore, as the Internet has broadened geographically, so has the country-origin of domain name disputes. In 2011, disputes filed with WIPO involved complainants and respondents from an astounding 110 countries. And these cases were handled by 323 WIPO panelists from 49 different countries in 13 languages.
For 2011, the highest sector areas of WIPO complaints related to retail, Internet and IT, biotechnology and pharmaceuticals, fashion, and banking and finance.
Interestingly, the WIPO panels found cybersquatting in 88% of the disputes. Obviously, complainants fare well with the domain name disputes filed with WIPO.
With the recent advent of the .xxx domain for pornography sites, disputes in this space already have arisen. There was quite a bit of debate within the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) as to how to manage Internet pornography. Finally, the .xxx domain came into operation in December. And now that it is here, .xxx already is adding to the panoply of domain name disputes.
Plainly, the rising tide of domain name disputes continues with no sign of ebbing any time soon.
Eric Sinrod is a partner in the San Francisco office of Duane Morris LLP (http://www.duanemorris.com) where he focuses on litigation matters of various types, including information technology and intellectual property disputes. His Web site is http://www.sinrodlaw.com and he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. To receive a weekly email link to Mr. Sinrod's columns, please send an email to him with Subscribe in the Subject line. This column is prepared and published for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. The views expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the author's law firm or its individual partners.