How to resolve domain disputes

Written by Samuel O’Toole | October 5, 2022

Intellectual Property

Domain disputes are what they say on the tin, a dispute relating to the ownership of a domain name. Domain names are key in any business given a likely first port of call for any customer will be a visit to a website to scope out the company and products. Given this, it is not all too surprising that disputes can arise as to the ownership of domain names, but once a dispute arises what can be done to resolve it…well I am glad you asked:

More often than not, a domain name dispute will be commenced under the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP) or the Nominet Dispute Resolution Service Policy (DRS) as these are terms and conditions that are agreed to when purchasing a domain name (the exact one will depend on what your domain ends with eg .uk domains are governed by the DRS).

Both policies have a streamline procedure and more often than not, it begins with a complainant (the person that doesn’t own the domain name) commencing domain name proceedings against a respondent (the owner of the domain name) by filing a complaint. The complaint will set out how and why the complainant believes it should be the owner of the domain name, the respondent will then have an opportunity to respond to the claim with its own position. On the filing of the complaint, the complainant will need to pay a fee to the adjudication centre (the entity hearing the dispute) in order for it to be commenced.

As the preparation of a domain name complaint involves a lot of paperwork and a payment of a fee, our first recommendation to resolve a domain name dispute is to try any short circuit the domain name complaint all together. It would be recommended to first reach out to the domain name owner to see if an amicable resolution can be achieved without the need for any formal proceedings – there is a big benefit here in terms of a big potential saving in both time and cost.

Of course, not all domain disputes can be settled amicably and so in some cases formal domain name proceedings will need to be commenced. This brings us onto our second recommendation for resolving domain name disputes: get your papers in order and prepare a well-reasoned and comprehensive claim or response. The procedures for domain name complaints rarely allow for statements to be amended or changed at a later date, it’s a one-shot chance in most cases and a well prepared claim and response can often make for sure fire success.

Third and finally, we would recommend making use of any mediation service on offer (for example with the DRS). Sometimes, an independent third party can assist with the bridging of any gaps and differences in opinions – it can also help to get a quicker result as there is no need to wait for a formal decision.

All of the lawyers at Briffa are experts in bringing and defending domain name disputes, acting for both the complainant and respondent gives us a good grounding when acting on either side. What’s even better is that we offer a free consultation so why not get in contact today to find out what we can do to help resolve your domain name dispute.

Written by Sam O’Toole – Associate

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