Cybersquatting summit hits early problems

A summit of domain name registrars aimed at stamping out cybersquatting has got off to a faltering start, with conflicting national opinion already evident.

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By  Zoe Moleshead Published  February 20, 2001

A summit of domain name registrars aimed at stamping out cybersquatting has got off to a faltering start, with conflicting national opinion already evident.

The World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) is presiding over the Geneva summit, which involves 66 countries. The uniform dispute resolution policy (UDRP), developed by WIPO to deal with cybersquatters on domains such as dot-com and dot-org, is top of the agenda and also one of the main problems.

Although 17 smaller countries have adopted the policy, Nominet, the UK’s administrator of the UK country code name domain, is hesitant about ditching its own policy for UDRP.

Eileen Bradley, customer services officer, Nominet says their procedure involves mediation, which helps to solve over a third of cases and deals with all domain name disputes, not just those of registered trademarks. Bradley added that for UDRP to work it needs to allow integration of regional differences.

Francis Gurry, assistant director general, WIPO, acknowledged the problems saying, “I think many countries will be looking very carefully at UDRP before adopting it because they’re afraid they will lose autonomy. I don’t think it’s a strong or valid argument, but I think, especially in a good faith dispute, that countries will be more in favour of retaining their own autonomy.”

Conflict also occurs about the fact UDRP doesn’t involve court intervention, with Dawn Osborne, an intellectual property lawyer warning: “Often the UDRP is sufficient in cases of garden variety cybersquatting, but legislation can offer a wider scope. It would be nice to see UDRP applied to country code domains, but it would be a very good second best if countries put their own procedures in place that were as efficient.”

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