Another Year, Another WIPO Announcement of Record Cybersquatting Claims But Disputed Domain Names Plummet

Another year has passed since the last WIPO news release of claims of a record year of cybersquatting cases. Which is true in a way, but, as WIPO adds more TLDs most years for which it arbitrates cybersquatting disputes the number of domain names registered around the grows every year (up 3.7% in 2018 according to the latest CENTRstats). And even while cases were up, the number of domain names disputed has plummeted to 5,655 from 6,370.

There were also drops among several top level domains The largest top level domain by registrations is easily .com with 137.3 million domain names under management and it grew by 5% in 2018. It also has by far the most domain names disputed (there can be more than one domain name disputed in each case) but the number dropped from 3,997 in 2017 to 3,660. Likewise .net, although registrations dropped 4% for the year, disputed domain names dropped from 282 to 232. Likewise .org, whose registrations dropped 1% for the year and disputed domains dropped from 217 to 176 while .info registrations dropped 26% and disputed domains dropped 141 to 112. These were the top 4 TLDs with disputed domain names and the only 4 with more than 100 disputed domain names.

Among the top 12, which all had more than 50 disputed domain names, the only TLDs that saw a rise were .online, which jumped 4 to 78, .life which went from 11 to 58, .app which didn’t hit general availability until May 2018 saw 57 disputed domain names, .pro which went from 17 to 44 and .top from 24 to 38. Those to decline were .xyz (66 to 55) and .store (98 to 30).

For the top 12 TLDs, the number of disputed domain names dropped from 5,226 in 2017 to 4,574 in 2018 and overall the number of disputed domain names dropped to 5,655 from 6,370. It was still the second most number of disputed domain names in a year since 2000 from when WIPO charts statistics.

In their announcement the World Intellectual Property Organisation notes trademark owners filed an all-time high of 3,447 WIPO cases in 2018, up from 3,074 in 2017, under the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP).

“By abusing trademarks in the Domain Name System, cybersquatting undermines legitimate commerce and harms consumers,” said WIPO Director General Francis Gurry. “This is true especially where squatters use domain names to offer counterfeit goods or for phishing, as is seen in numerous WIPO cases. The availability of the highly effective UDRP procedure is an indispensable support for the credibility of commerce on the Internet and for protection against fraudulent practices.”

The U.S. remained the country where most WIPO UDRP cases originated, with 920 cases filed in 2017, followed by France (462), the U.K. (276), Germany (222), and Switzerland (143). In total, parties from 112 countries were involved in case filings in 2017. In 2017, WIPO appointed 298 panellists based in 45 countries, and administered proceedings in 15 different languages.

The top sectors of complainant activity were banking and finance (12% of all cases), fashion (11%), internet and IT (9%), heavy industry and machinery (8%), and food, beverages and restaurants, biotechnology and pharmaceuticals, electronics, entertainment, and retail at 6% each.

In almost one-third of banking and finance-related decided cases filed in 2017, complainants asserted fraud, phishing or scam, the highest rate among all business sectors. In over one-third of fashion-related decided cases filed in 2017, complainants asserted counterfeiting, the second highest rate among all business sectors.

Philip Morris leads the list of filers – 91 cases – followed by Michelin, AB Electrolux, Andrey Ternovskiy (Chatroulette), Sanofi, Zions Bank, Carrefour, Virgin, Accor, and BASF and LEGO.

WIPO in 2017 launched an all-new edition of the WIPO Jurisprudential Overview. Covering over 100 topics, this essential WIPO case filing tool captures numerous developments in WIPO UDRP jurisprudence and the Domain Name System.

The full WIPO announcement including charts in annexes is available from: