Monday, November 02, 2009

The 10th Anniversary of the WIPO UDRP

Congratulations to WIPO and DG Francis Gurry and Director Erik Wilbers on the 10th anniversary of WIPO's UDRP ("Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy") initiative.

We take the UDRP now for granted because it was and is a simple, elegant and efficient method of dealing with a very pressing problem, namely the registration and use in bad faith of domain names that are identical to or confusing with a trademark or service mark in which the complainant has rights and where the registrant has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the domain name. But it was not an obvious solution at the time and WIPO deserves much credit.

WIPO under Francis Gurry and Erik Wilbers came up with and implemented a solution that worked - and all without a treaty. This was critical to establishment of ICANN and ICANN's initial credibility. Indeed, ICANN did not yet exist when WIPO started its UDRP consultation process in 1998. The WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center has now processed more than 16,000 decisions to date - a truly remarkable record. They have very tight schedules and deliver speedy, fair, efficient and inexpensive justice. I'm pleased to have been involved in some of these cases as a panelist.

A very recent positive development approved by ICANN on October 30, 2009 concerns the WIPO "eUDRP" process, will will do away with paper filings - except for the original service of the complaint notiice, which will be done in paper to a physical address as a safety valve to ensure proper service.

Also in the works is a "Fast Track" procedure that will provide a more summary determination in obvious cases, while still preserving full recourse to a full three person panel determination. This will account for the fact that about 25% of cases are settled and 75% of the rest proceed by way of default.

Here's Francis Gurry talking about the past, present and future of the UDRP at the recent conference celebrating the tenth anniversary.


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