Cybersquatting hits record levels

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Cybersquatting hits record levels
Logo of World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO)

Disputes in Australia on the rise.

The UN’s World Intellectual Property Organisation has reported a 28 percent year-on-year rise in complaints of cyber (or domain) squatting being submitted for arbitration.

Domain squatting referred to registering, trafficking in, or using a domain name in bad faith or with the intent to profit from the goodwill of a trademark belonging to someone else.

In 2010, trademark holders filed 2,696 cyber or domain squatting cases covering 4,370 domain names with the WIPO arbitration centre.

The centre had previously seen a year-on-year growth rate of 16 percent for such cases, when comparing 2009 figures with those from 2008.

Cases filed with WIPO in 2010 included parties from 57 countries. These cases were decided by 327 panelists from 49 countries in 13 different languages.

In 91 percent of cases, panels found evidence of cybersquatting, deciding in favour of complainants.

Since the Uniform Domain-Name Dispute-Resolution (UDRPs) launch in December 1999, the WIPO Centre received over 20,000 UDRP-based cases, covering some 35,000 domain names in both generic and country code Top Level Domains (gTLDs and ccTLDs).

The top five areas of WIPO complainant activity were retail, banking and finance, biotechnology and pharmaceuticals, Internet and IT, and fashion.

WIPO’s 2010 caseload featured well-known names from business and public interest sectors.

Most cases (82 percent) concerned registrations in the .com domain.

Australian domains

Though at a lower level than the international average, there was growth in disputes covering .the Australian .au domain.

WIPO has received 120 .au cybersquatting complaints since 1999. Some 55 complaints were received between 2008 and 2010 alone.

Among WIPO cases filed globally, the percentage related to country code Top Level Domains rose to 15 percent of all cases in 2010 from just 1 percent a decade ago.

However the peak year  for .au complaints was 2008 when 23 complaints were received. In 2010 this actually dropped to 21.

However there was clear evidence that cybersquatting was on the rise in the .au domain with 11 complaints received in the first quarter of 2011.

Unresolved desputes for 2011 in the .au domain include complaints from Armani and BMW.

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