The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (“ICANN”) adopted The Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (the “Policy” or “UDRP”) to resolve any disputes that arise between parties over the registration and use of domain names. The Policy was adopted by all ICANN accredited registrars and is incorporated by reference into your Registration Agreement with your registrar.
Since the wake of the new generic top-level domains (gTLD) another system has been put into place to facilitate trademark owners in policing their brands, the Uniform Rapid Suspension System (URS). As technology continues to grow and evolve we strive to keep pace and the URS was designed to provide a quick and cost effective procedure for clear-cut infringing domain names. It was designed to complement the existing UDRP. See our web page entitled: Update On The New Generic Top Level Domain Name Program for details regarding the new program.
To be successful and obtain relief under ICANN a complainant must prove all of the following prongs:
(i) that the domain name is registered by the respondent and is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which the complainant has rights: and
(ii) that the respondent has no legitimate interest in the domain name: and
(iii) the domain name has been registered and used in bad faith.
Regarding the first prong, its purpose is essentially to demonstrate standing. Typically, if you own a federally registered trademark or if you can prove you have common law rights and have acquired secondary meaning you will have standing to bring a UDRP complaint if the mark you have rights in is confusingly similar to the domain name registered by the respondent. To compare the domain name and trademark, there is a visual and aural comparison. Panels have agreed that if the dominant feature of the mark is similar or identical then adding a subsidiary word to the dominant element will not typically obviate the confusion for the purposes of the first prong requirement. If the complainant is asserting common law rights, it must show the mark has become a distinctive identifier associated with the goods or services and that secondary meaning has developed.