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Where do most cybersquatters live?

A lot in the U.S. and China, but there are some important caveats.

World Intellectual Property Organization, unlike its big peer, publishes robust statistics about the UDRP cases it hears.

One of the more interesting stats is the location of respondents, i.e. the alleged cybersquatters.

The stats WIPO provides need a few caveats if we’re going to draw conclusions about where cybersquatters live.

1. These are the locations of the respondents in all cases, not just those when the complainant wins. (But complainants win most of the cases.)

2. This is where the respondent says he/she lives. They could be fake addresses. Privacy services might skew it a bit too.

3. It’s unclear if these numbers include ccTLD cases heard under variations of UDRP.

OK, so here are the top 10:

I think it’s also interesting to compare this data to where most complainants reside.



Update 8/31/12:

At the prompting of John Berryhill’s comment below, I’ve calculated the number of WIPO UDRP filings compared to the number of internet users in a country. It radically shakes up the order, sending China near the bottom of the list.

This is a very crude analysis for a couple reasons.

First, I only looked at the ten countries that were at the top of the respondent list. I suspect that countries such as China wouldn’t even fall into the top 10 on this list had I looked at more.

Second, this only considers WIPO cases. Although National Arbitration Forum is smaller, it does hear a substantial number of cases. You might double the number of US cases to get the true number. But WIPO probably has a higher share of international cases. So while in the U.S. you might say there’s one UDRP per 150,000 internet users (double the # of WIPO cases), in other countries this crude methodology may not work. There’s also an Asian UDRP provider that might bump up China’s numbers.

Also, one person can be responsible for a large number of cases.

The most recent World Bank numbers for internet users are from 2010. I compared the number of 2010 users according to the world bank to the number of WIPO cases filed in 2010 alone.


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NYC condo board of directors fails to take down gripe site

July 23, 2012Domaining, Domainnamewire, Policy & Law, udrp, wipoComments Off

Resident set up site to complain about board of directors.

From what I’ve heard, the boards of directors of many New York condos and co-ops would make for great reality show fodder.

Here’s just one example: The board of directors of Towers on the Park Condominium filed a UDRP against a resident who registered TowersonthePark.com and used it to criticize the board.

The resident, Paul Adao, created a web site to complain about various activities of the board of directors. The board wasn’t pleased and filed the UDRP at World Intellectual Property Organization to try to get the domain.

Adao was victorious — not only at WIPO, but apparently he helped get most of the board members booted in the next election as well. Even Adao won a spot on the board.

The one person WIPO panel ruled that Adao had rights or legitimate interests in the domain name and that there was no evidence of bad faith in his registration.

The panelist didn’t consider reverse domain name hijacking, but there’s at least one part of the case that screams of bad faith. The board of directors claimed that Adao was “merely a temporary owner who lives in the Condominium.”

Adao has lived there since 1997.


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Wow: new TLD battle already hits UDRP

Complaint filed against a .med backer.

Here’s an interesting UDRP case that attacks an applicant for the .med top domain name.

The domains in this dispute are aboutdotmed.com, supportdotmed.com, and thedotmed.com.

The complaint was filed by DotMed.com, Inc. I wrote about DotMed.com back in January when I revealed 115 trademark applications for potential top level domains.

The respondent is HEXAP, which is working with AFNIC to secure the .med domain name.

What makes DotMed.com interesting is that it’s an actual store for medical supplies that has been around for over a decade. But recently it decided to file trademarks for .med for use as a top level domain. This is a very different use than an online medical store.

World Intellectual Property Forum is hearing the case. It should find in favor the respondents, as DotMed.com can’t possibly have any existing trademark rights for the use in which the respondents are using e the domains. Clearly, the respondents have rights or legitimate interests in the domain names.


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Arbitration company loses domain arbitration case

JAMS can’t have domain name, WIPO rules.

Oh, the irony.

An arbitration company has lost a UDRP arbitration case.

JAMS, a.k.a. Jams/Endispute, LLC filed an arbitration case with World Intellectual Property Organization over the domain name jamsarbitration.com. The registrant of the domain was upset over a decision JAMS came to in a case and created the web site to voice his opinion on the matter.

He didn’t respond to the complaint, but wrote to WIPO arguing that he was “making a legitimate noncommercial and fair use of the domain name, without intent for commercial gain or to mislead or divert consumers or tarnish the trademark or service mark at issue”.

The WIPO panel agreed, saying that the domain was a legitimate gripe site and that he had rights to the domain name.

If JAMS wants to complain about the result, perhaps they should go register WIPOarbitration.com. It’s available.


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Pepper.com.au transferred in bizarre case

Who actually owns this domain?

A World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) panel has ordered the domain name Pepper.com.au be transferred to Pepper Australia Pty Ltd, a home loan company.

The case was filed under .au Dispute Resolution Policy, which is different from the standard UDRP. Compared to UDRP, the .au policy is more lax on proving rights in a mark. It also requires only bad faith registration or use, not bad faith registration and use.

That said, how the panel came to its conclusion in this case is really strange. Basically, the respondent in the case Massive Networks Pty Ltd, deregistered as a company in 2010. The panel thus rules that it can’t have any rights or legitimate interests in the domain:

It cannot therefore hold property such as the registration of a domain name. The Panel concludes that it cannot have or claim any rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name.

Then the panel states that the respondent in the case did not register or use the domain in bad faith. Nevertheless, someone is now using it in bad faith, the panelist decides:

However the current use of the disputed domain name cannot be use by the Respondent, which no longer exists. It must therefore be use by an unidentified person or company. The website to which the disputed domain names resolves directs a visitor to travel agency offers and products and appears to have no connection to the Respondent or anyone connected to it.

In that case isn’t the respondent in the case not who it should be?

Seems like perverted justice to me.


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Owner of SMA.de files UDRP against SMA.com

May 1, 2012Domaining, Domainnamewire, Policy & Law, udrp, wipoComments Off

Spinning the wheel in UDRP roulette.

SMA Solar Technology AG has filed a UDRP case with World Intellectual Property Organization for the domain name SMA.com.

SMA.com belongs to Specialized Micro Architects. It was originally registered in 1995 and currently has an expiration date of 2017. The oldest whois record at Domain Tools shows that Specialized Micro Architects has owned the domain since at least 2001, although it may have been the original registrant.

The most recent content capture at Archive.org dates to 2001.

It’s no wonder that SMA Solar Technology wants the domain. It’s current web address is SMA.de.

One possibility is that it has been trying to reach the owner of SMA.com about buying the domain but hasn’t had luck, so it filed the UDRP as a last resort. I tried calling the phone number on the whois record but the call didn’t go through. I also sent an email. It hasn’t bounced (yet).

Any competent UDRP panel will find against SMA Solar Technology.


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UDRP Cyberbullying Hits a New Low

August 16, 2011Domaining, Domainnamewire, Policy & Law, udrp, wipoComments Off

German company goes after three letter domain 16 years after it’s registered.

I’ve seen a lot of egregious UDRP cases over the years. This one may take the cake.

Imagine the year is 1995. You register the domain name GEA.com because your personal initials are GEA and you have a business called G.E.A. Design.

Then 14 years later, in 2009, a German company starts complaining that its acronym is GEA and you should sell it the domain name for a nominal amount so it can upgrade its web address from GEAGroup.com. When you refuse, a couple years later — 16 years after you registered the domain name — the company files a UDRP against you.

That’s exactly what happened when GEA Group Aktiengesellschaft filed a case against a California man this year.

The WIPO panelist sums up the bad faith argument fairly nicely:

The Complainant’s suggestion that the Respondent’s failure to display content on the website since 2007 would somehow confuse Internet users is not in the Panel’s view credible. In addition the Panel notes that the Respondent has apparently refused numerous offers for sale of the Disputed Domain Name from various organizations, including from the Complainant, on the legitimate basis that it has used its email address from this website for many years and that to sell it and to have to change email addresses would cause the Respondent considerable disruption and inconvenience. In these circumstances the suggestion by the Complainant of its impression, based on its lawyers’ communications with the Respondent in 2009, that the Respondent would be prepared to sell the Disputed Domain Name for a substantial multiple of the USD 2,000 sum offered by the Complainant, carries little weight.

Overall, the Panel’s view that the Disputed Domain Name has not been registered or used by the Respondent in bad faith is only reinforced by the delay of the Complainant in acting to obtain the Disputed Domain Name. Had the Complainant really been concerned about the Respondent’s illegitimate motives or about damage to its reputation it would not have waited so long after the initial registration in 1995 of the Disputed Domain Name to first communicate with the Respondent (the first communication with the Respondent by the Complainant’s lawyers appears to have occurred in 2009) and a total of 16 years to bring this Complaint.

Needless to say, the panel ruled that the domain owner can keep the domain name. But he should have also found GEA Group Aktiengesellschaft guilty of reverse domain name hijacking.


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WIPO Panel Censures Law Firm for Misleading Panel

July 14, 2011Domaining, Domainnamewire, Policy & Law, udrp, wipoComments Off

Panel blasts law firm for either trying to mislead panel or being “inexcusably careless”.

Last year a World Intellectual Property Organization panelist called a case represented by law firm Novagraaf Nederland a “flagrant abuse” of the UDRP. In that case, the law firm told the panel that its client had been in business from 1994 but didn’t disclose that it had just recently changed its name to reflect the domain name at issue. Novagraaf Nederland also stated that its client, a big bank, had a greater right to the domain name than the individual owner.

Fast forward less than 12 months and the same law firm is getting whipped by a WIPO panel again. In fact, the panel decided the case was reverse domain name hijacking and that the legal representative should be censured.

The case was filed on behalf of Coöperatie Univé U.A. for the domain name Unive.com. The complainant said it registered the domain name in 2000 but accidentally let it expire in 2010, and the respondent registered the domain name upon expiration.

But that’s not what happened. It let the domain name expire a long time ago, and the respondent was the registrant since at least 2003.

Furthermore, the complainant submitted evidence in the form of an email exchange with the respondent prior to the UDRP filing in which the respondent claimed this early ownership. This correspondence had been forwarded to the law firm, so the panel says it was “on notice” about the registration dates.

As a result, the panel writes:

The Panel is mindful of the concurring opinion in Credit Europe, supra, a case featuring the same professional representative as the Complainant’s representative in the present case. The panelist who wrote the concurring opinion, a member of the Panel in the present case, noted therein that the complainant in that case had misled the panel inter alia in its description of the facts upon which the complaint was based and called for “the limited censure available to the Panel under the Policy and the Rules, if only to deter similar conduct in future.” The Panel in the present case considers that it is lamentable that the Complainant’s representative appears to have failed to address these concerns and thus has brought two cases under the Policy within a year in which there is a real prospect that it has either deliberately sought to mislead the panel or has been inexcusably careless in the manner in which it has pled its client’s case. The Panel is unanimous that this deserves censure.

Novagraaf Nederland is an intellectual property law firm, by the way.

The respondent was represented by John Berryhill.


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Lazy Panelist Alert: This Should Have Been Reverse Domain Name Hijacking

June 30, 2011Domaining, Domainnamewire, Policy & Law, udrp, wipoComments Off

WIPO panelist doesn’t bother to consider a sure-fire reverse domain name hijacking claim.

I realize UDRP panelists aren’t paid much to handle cases, but there must be a minimum standard here.

Why the frustration? Take a look at the recently decided case for Cite.com.

The owner of the domain name registered it in 1997 and started a business called Cité Consulting. The complainant Systemware, Inc. didn’t start using the term “CITE” in commerce until 2011.

I understand that Systemware may not have been aware that the domain owner had a consulting company using the domain name. But the 14 year difference between his registration and the company’s first use of the term is enough to make this case a complete joke.

The respondent rightfully asked for a finding of reverse domain name hijacking.

But in one of the shortest UDRP decisions I’ve ever read, panelist Christopher J. Pibus didn’t even bother to consider RDNH.

Update: I have received a copy of the original complaint. Systemware’s lawyers cited Telstra v. Nuclear Marshmallows as rationale for how the domain could have been registered in bad faith if used later in bad faith. Also, the owner of the domain name belatedly discovered that the lawyers had sent an email inquiring about purchasing the domain, although he missed the email originally.


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Pac-10 Goes After More Domain Names

May 26, 2011Domaining, Domainnamewire, Policy & Law, udrp, wipoComments Off

Sporting conference files dispute over three domain names.

The Pac-10 conference, which now has twelve teams with the addition of Colorado and Utah and will rebrand as the Pac-12, is again turning to the World Intellectual Property Forum in an effort to get domain names related to its new brand.

The group filed a complaint (and won) over pac-12network.com, pac12network.com, and pac-12network.org. All three are registered to an Ontario man.

The collegiate athletic conference first used World Intellectual Property Forum (WIPO) for a domain name dispute earlier this year when it tried to get the domain name Pac12.com. The owner of that domain name decided to avoid the WIPO process by suing the Pac-10 instead.

The suit was later dropped, but Pac12.com is still in the hands of a Utah man. He directs it to a page with a dozen products related to the late rapper Tupac, calling it a “12 Pac of Tupac”.

The Pacific-10 has been a bit behind with its web presence. Pac10.com was owned by publicly traded Marchex until 2009.


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