February 1, 2006

WIPO Crowing Again About “Cybersquatting”

Filed under: phone — Wendy @ 12:41 pm

Most of us would be put off if a court issued a press release cheering the number of prisoners its judges had put behind bars or the number of tenants it had helped landlords to evict. That seems antithetical to the neutral adjudication of disputes, and ethical rules regularly decry such “appearance of bias.” Yet WIPO seems to think it perfectly natural to crow about its arbitrators’ favoritism for complainants against “cybersquatters” in UDRP proceedings. It issued a release that reads like a solicitation for trademark claimants’ business, not a promotion of neutral arbitration services:

The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) saw a 20% increase in the number of cybersquatting (abusive registration of trademarks as domain names) cases filed in 2005 as compared to 2004. In 2005, a total of 1,456 cybersquatting cases were filed with WIPO’s Arbitration and Mediation Center. This increase represents the highest number of cybersquatting cases handled by the WIPO Center since 2001….

In the 6,349 decisions they have rendered, WIPO panels have found for the complainant in 5,327 (83.9%) cases.

Now it is not surprising that the World Intellectual Property Organization often aligns itself with intellectual property claimants against those representing the public domain, competition, or non-IP claims. It is disturbing, however, that it expresses this bias while serving as a provider of admistrative panels for the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy. WIPO is ICANN-accredited to provide panelists for what is supposed to be an “impartial and independent” determination of rights to a domain name.

One might already doubt the impartiality of some WIPO panelists, such as those who decided in past UDRP procedings that
bodacious-tatas.com “is obviously aimed at diverting Internet users to log on to the Respondent¬ís site in the erroneous belief that the site in question is owned by the Complainant [Tata Sons Limited]”
and that vivendiuniversalsucks.com “refers to goods or services provided by the Complainant [Vivendi Universal]“. Unfortunately, this release suggests that not only some panelists, but WIPO as the provider responsible for appointing panelists from its lists, has prejudged all respondents as “abusive registra[nts] of trademarks as domain names.”

Small wonder, then, that in administrative proceedings where the complainant chooses the resolution forum, more than 2/3 of complainants have chosen WIPO — a healthy business, at $500-1,250 apiece for WIPO (apart from panelist fees).

5 Comments

  1. Pigs and Cows and New gTLDs

    At a recent meeting, ICANN’s Generic Names Supporting Organization asked
    ICANN Staff to prepare a report on whether the ICANN-Verisign …

    Trackback by Internet Pro Radio | icann.Blog — February 3, 2006 @ 11:05 am

  2. Have you seen where WIPO won’t even fix their errors on intellectual property disputes. see http://groups.google.com/group/alt.domain-names.disputes/browse_thread/thread/b08cb73b4d499504/71edfb061111ad0a?hl=en#71edfb061111ad0a

    Comment by WIPO Arbitrator — February 13, 2006 @ 10:48 pm

  3. Wendy,

    maybe you would be interested in reading about my case in:

    http://wolfb.com/?q=2006/01/big-publishing-group-demands-my-domain.html
    http://wolfb.com/?q=defending-deusto.com
    and in http://wolfb.com/ in general.

    A big Spanish company issued a complaint against me for my domain, and the case is ridiculous: my site has been active for 8 years, and they lied about their trademarks. But my domain is still suspended, and I am waiting for a decission.

    Comment by hombrelobo — February 22, 2006 @ 9:28 am

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