The acronym UDRP is one that many website owners may have seen or heard before, but what it is, where it came from, and why we need it may be less familiar if you have never been involved in a domain dispute. But, whether you know it or not, you agreed to abide by the UDRP when you signed your domain agreement. Continue reading for a full explanation of the UDRP process.
What is UDRP?
The UDRP (Uniform Domain-Name Dispute-Resolution Policy) is a set of rules found in every Domain Name Purchase Agreement that defines how domain name disputes should be decided. The UDRP generally applies to top-level domains such as .biz, .com, .info, and .org—to name a few.
By signing the mandatory Domain Name Purchase Agreement when purchasing a domain, registrants “represent and warrant” that the registration “will not infringe upon or otherwise violate the rights of any third party,” and agree to an arbitration-like proceeding if such a claim should arise. While the UDRP is mandatory for domain holders, it is an optional procedure for mark holders.
Where did UDRP come from?
With the rise of the Internet in the early ‘90s came the use of trademarks as domain names without the owner’s consent, also known as “The Trademark Dilemma.” By 1998, the non-profit corporation ICANN (the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) was formed to assume responsibility for IP address space allocation, top-level domain name system management, and root server system management functions. In other words, ICANN ensures corporate trademark are not held ransom by those who register a certain domain name before the company can.
What are the UDRP elements?
The UDRP essentially protects businesses from abusive or bad faith registrations. However, like all contracts, there is more to it than that. You can read the full UDRP here, or find the essential elements, below.
To have a domain name transferred, a complainant must prove:
- That the domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which the complainant has rights; and
- The respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the domain name; and
- The domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith by the respondent
What are the steps in the UDRP process?
Day 0: Complainant files complaint with a the NAF or WIPO, which will send send a copy to Respondent (domain holder) at the address shown on the WHOIS database.
The provider then reviews the complaint for compliance with the UDRP and provider rules. If the complaint complies, the proceeding continues; if the complaint does not comply, however, the complainant has 5 days to resolve the defects. If the complainant does not do so within 5 days, the complaint will be considered withdrawn.
Day 3: The provider sends the complaint to the registrar of the allegedly infringing domain name, along with a copy to the respondent.
Day 23: the respondent must respond specifically to the allegations in the complaint and offer any bases for the retention of the domain name within 20 calendar days of the commencement of the formal proceedings.
If the respondent does not file a response within this 20-day window, respondent will be deemed to have defaulted.
Day 28: The provider now has 5 days to appoint a panel.
Day 42: A decision will be rendered within 14 days of the panel’s appointment.
Day 45: The panel has 3 days to notify the parties of the decision.
10 business days later: Unless the adversely affected domain name holder has filed suit in a court of mutual jurisdiction by this date, the registrar will implement the decision of the panel, canceling or transferring the domain name according to the remedy sought in the complaint.
Though it is at the panel’s discretion to extend the time restrictions in exceptional circumstances, disputes are generally resolved within 60 days of filing.
Editors note: This article was originally published in June, 2015. It has been updated for clarity and comprehensiveness.