UDRP stands for “Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy,” a set of guidelines established by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) that tackles how trademark-based domain disputes must be resolved. ICANN is a nonprofit organization tasked with maintaining the databases of domain names and Internet Protocol (IP) addresses.

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Example of UDRP

An example of a disputed domain name is louisvuitton[.]lat, registered in October 2019. About a year later, Louis Vuitton filed a UDRP complaint against the registrant. The result? The panel ordered the registrar to transfer the domain to Louis Vuitton. The respondent was found to have registered and used the domain in bad faith or with ill intention.

The above is only one example of more than 57,000 UDRP cases processed by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), one of the organizations that hear such cases.

UDRP Origins

UDRP was adopted and implemented in 1999, with worldwrestlingfederation[.]com as the subject of the first case. The domain’s ownership was transferred to World Wrestling Federation Entertainment, Inc. since the panel found it to have been registered and used by the respondent in bad faith.

What Are the Prerequisites of Filing a UDRP Complaint?

According to the policy, UDRP complainants must satisfy three elements to win. Complainants must prove that:

  • The domain name in question is identical or confusingly similar to its trademark or service mark.
  • The respondent has no right or legitimate interest in the disputed domain name.
  • The respondent registered and used the domain in bad faith.

How Does One Prove Bad Faith?

The burden of proof lies with the complainant. One significant aspect the panel considers is the disputed domain name’s registration date. They use this data to determine if the domain was registered in bad faith.

For instance, in WIPO Case No. D2022-0451, the complainant’s claim over goodlife[.]com was denied. The complainant registered its trademark for GOODLIFE on 9 June 2015, but the domain name was registered 17 years earlier, on 24 September 1998.

Based on these facts, the panel decided that the complainant failed to prove that the domain was registered in bad faith. According to them, “the respondent could not have known of the complainant at the time it registered the disputed domain name and could not have targeted it with this registration.”

In What Instances Is Filing a UDRP Case Not an Option?

Now that you know what UDRP is, it’s also crucial to learn when not to use the policy. Not all trademark-based domain disputes can win in a UDRP case. We cite two reasons one shouldn’t use UDRP to obtain a domain name:

  • Reverse domain name hijacking (RDNH): The complainant’s attempt to get hold of goodlife[.]com in the case we cited above is an example of RDNH. ICANN describes this as “the bad faith use of a UDRP claim to deprive a registrant of a domain name.”
  • Erroneous lapse in domain registration: In some instances, complainants use UDRP to cover for their mistake in not renewing their domain registrations on time. In a dispute over titoni[.]com, the complainant allowed the domain to expire, allowing the respondent to register it. Still, the panel denied the claim, as the complainant failed to prove that the new owner registered the domain in bad faith.

We quote a portion of the case here: “The panel wishes to emphasize that it does not assume that all erroneously lapsed domain name renewals are evidence of the bad faith registration of the domain name by a new holder. Nor does the panel believe that the policy is designed primarily to make up for the mistakes or negligence of registrars or complainants in ensuring that domain names get renewed, however unfortunate that may be.”

How Do You File a UDRP Complaint?

The first step in filing a UDRP case is choosing the dispute resolution provider. The most popular is WIPO, but ICANN has a list of approved providers. You will then have to complete and submit the ICANN UDRP complaint form to your chosen provider.

The provider reviews the form and gives you 4–5 days to address any issue they may find. Failing to resolve the issues within this period automatically causes the withdrawal of the case. 

The respondents will be given 20 days to respond to the allegations. If they respond, the provider will set up a panel to resolve the conflict. If there’s no response, you will win by default, and the domain will be transferred or canceled.

How Much Does It Cost to File a UDRP Complaint?

The cost of filing a UDRP complaint depends on the number of disputed domain names and whether you choose a single- or three-member panel. The minimum fee is US$1,500. WIPO posted the following schedule of fees on their website:

what is udpr

Source: https://www.wipo.int/amc/en/domains/fees/