Every day, the number of Internet websites and online services greatly increases. Because of this, it is a rather difficult job to find website names and domains that have not been already registered. In some cases, there are websites that are created with names that are very similar to existing popular websites. In certain instances, this is purely incidental while other times this is done on purpose to capitalize on the popularity of the other site and to drive business.
Uniform Domain-Name Dispute-Resolution Policy (UDRP)
In an effort to help monitor and police this ever-growing problem, the UDRP was established by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) in December of 1999. This policy is the standard for all website extensions such as .com, biz, .org, as well as certain country domains.
Establishing a Domain
When you are looking to register a particular domain address, the reputable way is to follow the UDRP. In doing this, it is understood that you will not be doing so with a name or site that could potentially infringe upon an existing one. Also, you will participate in a hearing or arbitration if there are disputes against the site address.
Unfortunately, there is no international law that requires people and businesses to follow the Policy. The Internet has long been a place where people are able to get a domain address as soon as it becomes available.
A domain name is very quick and relatively inexpensive to register. Because there are unscrupulous people in the world willing to pay for copied domains, creative criminals have capitalized on this fact. If a particular address is similar to that of a major corporation, purchasing this site could prove to be quite lucrative. In some instances, people will purchase these addresses at a lower rate and then try to sell it to the company at an inflated rate, or to its competitor.
When a particular website is named in such a dispute, there are a number of resolution companies that adhere to the UDRP. These companies will review all of the information and see if there is a conflict of interest and if the website was truly set up for disreputable reasons. Some examples of this would be if the site were set up only to be resold to the highest bidder. Also, when logos and images are too similar to another company, there may be trademark infringements involved as well. If the site was set up to drive legitimate customers away, using similar domain names and images, it may be considered to be in the wrong.
If both parties are registered through the UDRP, they agreed to follow the recommendations of the resolution company. If the outcome is not agreeable, there is still the option to take the matter to court. This can prove to be quite costly and take a considerable amount of time to get resolved.
Many times, there are further complaints and criticism that is involved with the resolution process. Creative free speech comes into play often as a main argument against the Policy. In many cases, a larger corporation will have the monetary resources to take the issue to court if they are dissatisfied with a particular outcome, while the small business owner or individual would not have this ability.
The Internet will not stop growing, and there will certainly always be such cases of dispute. For any individual or business, it is always best to correctly register a domain through an ICANN accredited provider. This may then be helpful if there are problems down the road. Until there is an international policy that all must follow, it is up to the individual business to keep a watchful eye on the Internet.
Michael Stanton is a content contributor for amazingdomains.co.uk, a firm specializing in UK domain niches, such as electronics domains for unique audio and video industry websites.