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Domain Name Transfers: Dispute Resolution Policy (TDRP)

By Eric Misterovich

When a domain name needs to be transferred from one registrar to another, problems can arise between registrars. ICANN, the global organization that “governs” internet identifier naming systems, has a policy for resolving domain transfer disputes between registrars. The procedures apply only after the registrars have made a good faith attempt to solve the problem on their own.

A registrar seeking to file a claim has two options. They can either file a direct claim with the Registry Operator[1] (the top-level domain provider as named by ICANN), or they can file a claim with a Dispute Resolution Panel (DRP), which would issue a binding decision, appealable only in a court with proper jurisdiction. Any claim must be brought within 6 months of the alleged violation of transfer policy.

Option 1: Filing with the Registry Operator

Under this scenario, a claim must be submitted electronically to both the Registry and the opposing registrar and must include all relevant information as set out by ICANN. This includes, for example, details of the transfer agreement, contact information for the parties, the grounds for the complaint and the remedy sought, and evidence of the transfer agreement. The responding registrar then has 7 days to respond to each claim and must do so specifically. The Registry Operator then has 14 days to make a decision. Only the losing registrar will be charged a fee, and either registrar can move the proceedings to a court with proper jurisdiction at any time.

Option 2: Dispute Resolution Panel

Under this scenario, the same documentation is required of the registrars under the same timeline. The difference is, the dispute will be judged and decided upon by a DRP—appointed by a Dispute Resolution Provider—within 30 days of receiving the filings. The DRP can either grant or deny the transfer.[2] An appeal can be filed by the losing registrar with a Dispute Resolution Provider within 14 days of the DRP’s decision. The appeal must follow the same conditions as the original claim (electronic form, contact info, etc.). Filing fees are to be determined by the Dispute Resolution Provider, must be paid by the filing registrar, and are reimbursable if they prevail on their claim. Either party may move the proceedings to a court with proper jurisdiction at any time.

This is just a cursory overview of ICANN’s Dispute Resolution Policy. The policy can be found here, but registrars or domain name owners seeking to file a claim should seek the advice of an attorney to help navigate through the ICANN procedures and effectively advocate on their behalf.

[1] A registrar could also file a claim with a Dispute Resolution Provider, however doing so eliminates the chance to appeal a decision from the Provider.

[2] If the transfer has already occurred, but should not have, the DRP can force the return of the domain name back to the original registrar.

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