The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) reports that trademark owners filed a record 3,447 cases under the uniform domain name dispute resolution policy (UDRP) with WIPO’s arbitration and mediation center in 2018, as businesses reacted to the proliferation of websites used for counterfeit sales, fraud, phishing, and other forms of online trademark abuse.
WIPO director general Francis Gurry said ‘domain names involving fraud and phishing or counterfeit goods pose the most obvious threats, but all forms of cybersquatting affect consumers. WIPO’s UDRP caseload reflects the continuing need for vigilance on the part of trademark owners around the world.’ WIPO’s 2018 caseload covered 5,655 domain names in total. Disputes involving domain names registered in new generic top-level domains (gTLDs) accounted for some 13 per cent of the total, with disputes most commonly found in .ONLINE, .LIFE, and .APP. Representing 73 per cent of the gTLD caseload, .COM demonstrated the continuing popularity of the legacy gTLDs. WIPO UDRP cases in 2018 involved parties from 109 countries. The U.S., with 976 cases filed, remained the first-ranked filing country, followed by France (553), the U.K. (305), Germany (244), and Switzerland (193). The top three sectors of complainant activity were banking and finance (12 per cent of all cases), biotechnology and pharmaceuticals (11 per cent), and Internet and IT (11 per cent). Cases were decided by 318 panelists from 54 countries in 2018. The WIPO Center administered cases in 19 different languages.
Recently introduced provisions, such as the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), are affecting the accessibility of registrant information in ‘WhoIs’ domain name databases. In response to these developments, the WIPO Center in 2018 published informal guidance for trademark owners exploring UDRP filing and it remains involved in ICANN discussions on a WhoIs access solution. In 2018, the WIPO Center received 60 mediation, arbitration, and expert determination cases in different areas of intellectual property (IP), an increase of 15% over the previous year. Patent-related disputes are the most common in WIPO’s caseload, followed by information and communications technology (ICT), trademark, and copyright disputes. Companies, including multinationals and small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), were the most frequent users of WIPO mediation and arbitration, followed by individuals, research institutions and universities, as well as copyright collective management organizations.