Cybersquatting cases lodged by trademark owners with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) grew 4.6 percent to 2,754 cases in 2015 while the number of domain names disputed is the lowest since 2008 with 4,364 lodged under the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP).
What WIPO don’t acknowledge is global domain name registrations have grown faster than cases lodged. For the 12 months to the end of September 2015, covering three-quarters of the same period, registrations across all top level domains and not just those for which disputes are lodged with WIPO, grew by 5.2 percent for the year according to the most recent Verisign Domain Name Industry Brief with a new brief due any day now covering the period to the end of 2015.
So while cybersquatting cases in the TLDs that lodge disputes with WIPO grew, the number of domains registered across all TLDs grew faster meaning that on a per domain basis, cybersquatting cases actually dropped. This is not the first time WIPO has made similar claims.
Country code Top Level Domains (ccTLDs) accounted for 13.7 percent of all filings with WIPO in 2015, with 71 ccTLDs designating this WIPO dispute resolution service.
WIPO also report that cybersquatting disputes relating to new gTLDs accounted for 10.5 percent of WIPO’s UDRP caseload in 2015, which covered a total of 4,364 domain names. Among these names .xyz, .club and .email were the most common new gTLDs.
Which is not to say brand owners should not be diligent or be concerned with cybersquatting. The damage to a brand’s reputation should a domain related to their brand be registered by cybersquatters can be substantial.
Brands that lodged the most cases with WIPO in 2015 were Hugo Boss (62 cases), Philip Morris (60), Electrolux (48) and Hoffman-La Roche (41). Each case can contain more than one disputed domain name.
Since the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center administered the first UDRP case in 1999, total WIPO case filings passed the 33,000 mark in 2015, encompassing over 61,000 domain names.
The increase in new gTLD registrations in WIPO’s caseload is anticipated to continue WIPO say, in particular as new gTLDs contested at ICANN auctions, such as .shop, are yet to launch and registrations are growing at a rapid rate totalling 16 million to date.
At the same time, ICANN has commenced a process to review Rights Protection Mechanisms such as the URS (Uniform Rapid Suspension system) and the UDRP. As the UDRP initiator and leading administrator, WIPO takes a strong interest in these ICANN processes.