The number of cybersquatting cases reached record levels in 2011, forcing organizations to take online brand protection measures.

Trademark holders filed a record 2,764 cybersquatting cases – covering 4,781 domain names – with the World Intellectual Property Organization’s (WIPO) Arbitration and Mediation Center.

This represented a 2.5 per cent rise on 2010 and a 9.4 per cent leap from the number of complaints in 2009.

Affected parties resorted to procedures based on the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP) in a bid to protect their brands.

Since the UDRP’s launch in December 1999, the WIPO Center has received over 22,500 UDRP based cases, covering 40,500 domain names in both generic and country code top level domains.

Last year, 110 different countries were represented by either complainants or respondents – highlighting the increasingly global nature of the internet.

The cases were decided by 323 WIPO panelists from 49 countries in 13 different languages, with the majority being heard in English, Spanish, French, Dutch, German and Chinese.

WIPO suggested the launch of online filing facilities – such as the paperless eUDRP, the Legal Index of WIPO UDRP Decisions, and the Overview of WIPO Panel Views on Selected UDRP Questions – may have encouraged more complaints.

It claimed the UDRP remains “an attractive alternative” to taking cybersquatting disputes to court, and avoiding costly and time-consuming litigation.

WIPO director general Francis Gurry said the 2011 UDRP filing trends illustrate that even in today’s Domain Name System, brand owners already have to make difficult choices for their stretched online enforcement resources.

“With the domain name coordinating body, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), allowing for a massive increase in the number of new domains, brand owners’ resources will likely be stretched further,” he claimed.

Vincent D’Angelo, director of global brand advisors at CSC, added that the UDRP remains a “viable and cost effective option” for businesses and organizations seeking recourse.

However, he said it is important to quantify the traffic and impact of the domain name(s) in question before using this process.

Cybersquatting rise ‘sees increasing reliance on UDRP’
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