Elgar Intellectual Property and Global Development series
Chapter 1: Overview of Domain Name Regulation
REGULATORY OPTIONS A number of options currently exist for those seeking to assert rights in an Internet domain name against a prior registrant. The avenue chosen will largely depend upon the nature of the claim, and the jurisdiction in which the complainant resides. Despite the number of available avenues for dispute resolution, the current system suffers from significant gaps and limitations. Today’s regulations focus on protecting trademarks, and occasionally personal names, against cybersquatters. Cybersquatting involves registering a domain name corresponding with someone else’s name or mark with the intent to sell it for a profit.1 Other conduct that may cause domain name conflicts is not specifically regulated. Examples of non-cybersquatting conflicts involve situations where multiple parties simultaneously hold legitimate trademark interests that correspond with the same domain name,2 or where someone asserts expressive rights to comment on or criticize a trademark holder under a corresponding domain name.3 1 Jonathan Nilsen, Mixing Oil with Water: Resolving the Differences Between Domain Names and Trademark Law, 1 J. High Tech. L. 47, 51 (2002) (‘Cybersquatting has been defined several ways. The most general definition of a cybersquatter is a person who registers a domain name that matches a well-known company for the purpose of ransoming it to that company’.) 2 David Kesmodel, The Domain Game: How People Get Rich from Internet Domain Names 23 (2008) (‘Domain names raised a host of new and perplexing questions in the field of intellectual-property law, especially when it came to trademarks. One problem was that only...
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