Using the UDRP process to resolve domain name disputes has many advantages, and can be summarized into three main reasons. Domain name disputes bring particularly interesting issues to the table because of the way domain names are regulated and managed, and the UDRP process is a simple and quick process to deal with issues that could be much more complex and resource-consuming. To briefly illustrate, ICANN is a nonprofit, non-governmental organization which, for all practical purposes, is the lead regulator of all the world’s domain names. However, individual countries also have their own sets of rules and regulations for trademarks, which are greatly related to domain name disputes. Many problems arise at this intersection of domestic law, and international law rooted in treaties and other multilateral agreements.
1) The UDRP is quick & easy
The typical timeline for a UDRP case, from filing of a complaint to completion of the process, is 60 days, which is relatively short compared to the uncertain timelines with federal litigation. Also, only one document needs to be submitted by the Complainant, and one Response filed by the Respondent. Once a complaint has been filed, a Respondent has 20 days to respond, and WIPO will assign a Panelist within 5 days after a response has been made. Panelists are required to issue a decision to the relevant domain name registrar within 14 days of being assigned, and then the registrar is required to carry out the decision within 10 days.
2) The UDRP uses Panelists who are experts in trademark and domain name issues.
Have the confidence that your domain name rights are being assessed by experts in the field, as opposed to federal judges with caseloads containing a small fraction of trademark cases, and even fewer domain name cases. Expert Panelists minimize the risk of faulty decisions which may lead to more expensive appeals made by a party who is wronged by a decision. Additionally, Panelists are drawn from all over the world, and may likely have more expertise on the subtle international issues present in cybersquatting cases.
3) The UDRP is an inexpensive process.
The majority of UDRP cases are administered by WIPO in Geneva, Switzerland (“OMPI” locally), where cases involving 1-5 domain names and heard by a single Panelist costs $1500.oo USD, and a panel of 3 costs $4000.00 USD in fees. Fees are payable by the Complainant. Lawyer’s fees typically range from $3500.00 to 6000.00 USD in addition to the WIPO fees. Thus, Complainants could have a decision for under $10,000.00 USD, where federal litigators will easily ask for a $10,000.00 up front retainer just to begin federal litigation; litigation which tends to have an uncertain path and future costs.