WIPO Commemorates 20 Years of Dispute Resolution

The 20th anniversary of the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP) was commemorated last week with a conference held at the WIPO headquarters in Geneva.

In an article on the World Intellectual Property Organization website looking at the conference held on 21 October, they note that UDRP was “born in 1999 as a solution to the problem of bad faith registration of domain names … [it] remains a vital enforcement online tool.  It has so far been used by brand owners from around the world in over 45,000 cases filed with WIPO’s Arbitration and Mediation Center – with record WIPO UDRP case filing levels continuing.”

While cases are continuing to grow, WIPO doesn’t acknowledge that the number of domain name registrations continues to grow as well.

“Over 250 brand owners, trademark practitioners, counsel, and other Internet stakeholders, including representatives from INTA and ICANN and some 140 WIPO UDRP Panellists, attended the historic event.”

WIPO Director General Francis Gurry in his opening remarks “recalled the extraordinary success of the UDRP as a durable international solution that has addressed a real problem effectively and has helped build trust in the Internet for global commercial transactions.”

The WIPO article posted on their website goes on to say:

The Conference program looked at a range of informative statistics, heard about the inner workings of the panel decision‑making process, and looked back at how key legal consensus has developed – notably including as to the UDRP’s ability to evolve with the Domain Name System over the years.

Conference sessions also addressed ADR system design in the Internet platform context and the use of technology to proactively combat trademark-infringing domain name registrations. 

Attendees also learned about the use of the UDRP model as a best practice by country code Top-Level Domain (ccTLD) authorities, including most recently by China for WIPO‑administered disputes under the .CN and .中国 domains.

A session moderated by leading experts David Bernstein of Debevoise & Plimpton and Zak Muscovitch of the Internet Commerce Association took stock of participants’ views on potential changes to the UDRP which is scheduled to undergo a formal review by ICANN beginning in the course of 2020.  The unanimous “vote” in the room was that more harm than good could come from making changes and that ICANN should not take the future success and stability of the UDRP lightly.

WIPO Director General Francis Gurry echoed the view that the UDRP – a creative and proven solution to a global legal problem – is very much worth preserving.