You have a business name and have registered a trademark. You discover that someone has filed domain names using your brand and is cybersquatting on them trying to make a quick buck. Everyone knows this is illegal, but what are your options?
The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) has a mediation program to deal with global domain name disputes. It is called the Uniform Domain Name Resolution Program (UDRP). You can electronically file a UDRP claim to contest the ownership of the domain name by emailing a Word version of your complaint or filling out a complaint online. Directions and sample forms are available at https://www.wipo.int/amc/en/domains/complainant/. A model complaint is also provided below. When you file the complaint, you can submit evidence of the cybersquatter’s bad faith such as a pattern of registering names and not using them, using fake contact information in the registration, or illegal activity such as selling counterfeit goods.
After you file your complaint, the cyberquatting domain name holder must file a response to your allegation. The program will assign one or mediators to handle the dispute. Under the new rules, the cybersquatter is required to prove it is making a legitimate use of the brand name and is not purely cybersquatting. It will need to submit evidence such as a business plan, business formation, legal advice, research and other due diligence, credible evidence of investment in a website, business cards, letterhead and promotional materials, and other preparations to actually and legitimately use the brand. In most cases, cybersquatters will not have the required proof and will lose the proceeding. If so, the domain name registration will be transferred to you.
This is not a simple or quick proceeding. It is full legal proceeding that takes many months and a series of legal documents and steps. These proceedings may be a good investment if the offending domain name leads to a loss of traffic to your legitimate website or otherwise has a negative impact on your business. In some cases, you may be able to recover the domain name without buying it from the cybersquatter. Your cost will be the legal fees for the proceeding, which may be nominal if you take a DIY approach. If you elect to try, here is a model complaint you can use.
WORLD INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY ORGANIZATION
ARBITRATION AND MEDIATION CENTER
[NAME AND ADDRESS OF COMPLAINANT]
Disputed Domain Name(s):
[NAME AND ADDRESS OF RESPONDENT]
(Rules, Paragraph 3(b); Supplemental Rules, Paragraphs 4(a), 12(a), Annex E)
[1.] This Complaint is hereby submitted for decision in accordance with the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (the Policy), approved by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) on October 24, 1999, the Rules for Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (the Rules), approved by ICANN on September 28, 2013, and in effect as of July 31, 2015, and the WIPO Supplemental Rules for Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (the Supplemental Rules) in effect as of July 31, 2015.
II. The Parties
A. The Complainant
(Rules, Paragraphs 3(b)(ii) and (iii))
[2.] The Complainant in this administrative proceeding is [provide full name and, if relevant, corporate or legal status.]
[3.] The Complainant’s contact details are:
Address: [Specify mailing address]
Telephone: [Specify telephone number]
Fax: [Specify fax number]
Email: [Specify email address]
[If there is more than one Complainant, provide the above information for each and arguments and evidence to support the consolidation of multiple Complainants in a single complaint in such cases, for example, where the multiple Complainants truly have a common grievance against the Respondent. Multiple Complainants may demonstrate a common grievance against the Respondent, for example, (1) where Complainants have a common legal interest in a relevant right or rights that are allegedly affected by the Respondent’s conduct, or (2) where the multiple Complainants are the target of common conduct by the Respondent which has clearly affected their individual legal interests. See WIPO Overview of WIPO Panel Views on Selected UDRP Questions, Third Edition (“WIPO Overview 3.0”), section 4.11.]
[4.] The Complainant’s authorized representative in this administrative proceeding is:
[If relevant, identify authorized representative and provide all contact details, including postal address, telephone number, fax number, email address; if there is more than one authorized representative, provide contact details for each.]
[5.] The Complainant’s preferred method of communications directed to the Complainant in this administrative proceeding is:
Address: [Specify one email address]
Contact: [Identify name of one contact person]
Material including hardcopy (where applicable)
Method: [Specify one: fax, post/courier]
Address: [Specify one address, if applicable]
Fax: [Specify one fax number]
Contact: [Identify name of one contact person]
B. The Respondent
(Rules, Paragraph 3(b)(v))
[6.] According to [indicate why the person/entity identified in the Complaint has been identified as the Respondent, e.g., the concerned registrar’s WhoIs database. (Information about the concerned registrar can be found on the Internic database at https://www.internic.net/whois.html)], the Respondent in this administrative proceeding is [identify Respondent (the domain name holder), (including full name, and if relevant, corporate or legal status, place of incorporation and principal place of business, or residence) see WIPO Overview 3.0, section 4.4]. Copies of the printout of the database search(es) conducted on 2023 are provided as Annex [Annex number].
[7.] All information known to the Complainant regarding how to contact the Respondent is as follows:
[Provide all contact details (postal address, telephone number, fax number, email addresses) for the Respondent, including those that may have been used successfully in the course of pre-complaint dealings and those available from any WhoIs look-up service.]
[If there is more than one Respondent, provide the contact details for each Respondent and describe the relationship between them, which justifies them being named in a common complaint. See WIPO Overview 3.0, section 4.11.]
III. The Domain Name(s) and Registrar(s)
(Rules, Paragraphs 3(b)(vi), (vii))
[8.] This dispute concerns the domain name(s) identified below:
[Identify precisely the disputed domain name(s). You are also invited to indicate the date(s) of domain name registration.]
[9.] The registrar(s) with which the domain name(s) is/are registered is/are:
[Provide the name and full contact details of the registrar(s) with which the domain name(s) is/are registered.]
IV. Language of Proceedings
(Rules, Paragraph 11)
[Paragraph 11(a) of the Rules provides that, subject to the authority of the Panel, the language of the proceedings shall be the same as the language of the Registration Agreement unless the Parties have otherwise agreed to proceeding in a different language. In the absence of such agreement, a complainant may submit a complaint in a language different to the Registration Agreement where a complainant requests that the language of proceedings be the same as that of the complaint and provides brief supporting evidence, including such documentation as pre-complaint correspondence between the parties, the identity of the parties, the nationality and place of residence of the parties, and any other evidence of a respondent’s familiarity with the requested language. See WIPO Overview 3.0, section 4.5.]
[10.] To the best of the Complainant’s knowledge, the language of the Registration Agreement is [specify language of Registration Agreement], a copy of which is provided as Annex [Annex number] to this Complaint. The Complaint has been submitted in [specify language of Complaint] / [pursuant to an agreement between the parties stipulating that [specify language] should be the language of the administrative proceeding, a copy of which is provided as Annex [Annex number] to this Complaint.] / [The Complainant requests that the language of proceedings be [specify language] and provides the following supporting arguments and evidence.] [Where appropriate, provide supporting arguments and evidence supporting the request that the language of the complaint be the language of proceedings, including any relevant pre-complaint correspondence between the parties, the identity of the parties, the nationality and place of residence of the parties, and any other evidence of a respondent’s familiarity with the requested language.]
V. Jurisdictional Basis for the Administrative Proceeding
(Rules, Paragraphs 3(a), 3(b)(xiv))
[11.] This dispute is properly within the scope of the Policy and the Administrative Panel has jurisdiction to decide the dispute. The registration agreement, pursuant to which the domain name(s) that is/are the subject of this Complaint is/are registered, incorporates the Policy. [If relevant, indicate when the domain name(s) was/were registered and specify the provision of the registration agreement that makes the Policy applicable to the domain names(s).] A true and correct copy of the domain name dispute policy that applies to the domain name(s) in question is provided as Annex [Annex number] to this Complaint and can be found at [insert URL].
VI. Factual and Legal Grounds
(Policy, Paragraphs 4(a), (b), (c); Rules, Paragraph 3)
[In completing this Section VI., do not exceed the 5000 word limit: Supplemental Rules, Paragraph 11(a). Relevant documentation in support of the Complaint should be submitted as Annexes, with a schedule indexing such Annexes. Such Annexes should be submitted in conformity with the Supplemental Rules, Paragraph 12(a), Annex E. Case precedents or commentaries, such as the WIPO Overview 3.0, that are referred to for support should be referred to with complete citations (where appropriate, reference may be made by inserting the relevant URL).]
[12.] This Complaint is based on the following grounds:
A. The domain name(s) is(are) identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which the Complainant has rights;
(Policy, Paragraph 4(a)(i); Rules, Paragraphs 3(b)(viii), (b)(ix)(1))
• [In accordance with Rules, Paragraph 3(b)(viii), specify the trademark(s) or service mark(s) on which the Complaint is based and, for each mark, describe the goods or services, if any, in connection with which the mark is used. A separate description may also be given of the goods or services with which the Complainant intends, at the time the Complaint is submitted, to use the mark in the future. If applicable, attach copies of the registration certificates for the relevant marks.]
• [In accordance with Rules, Paragraph 3(b)(ix)(1), describe the manner in which the domain name(s) is/are identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which the Complainant has rights.]
B. The Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the domain name(s);
(Policy, Paragraph 4(a)(ii); Rules, Paragraph 3(b)(ix)(2))
• [In accordance with Rules, Paragraph 3(b)(ix)(2), describe why the Respondent should be considered as having no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the domain name(s) that is/are the subject of the Complaint. Attention should be paid to any relevant aspects of the Policy, Paragraph 4(c), including:
– Whether before any notice to the Respondent of the dispute, there is any evidence of the Respondent’s use of, or demonstrable preparations to use, the domain name(s) or a name corresponding to the domain name(s) in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services;
– Whether the Respondent (as an individual, business, or other organization) has been commonly known by the domain name, even if the Respondent has acquired no trademark or service mark rights;
– Whether the Respondent is making a legitimate non-commercial or fair use of the domain name(s), without intent for commercial gain misleadingly to divert consumers or to tarnish the trademark or service mark at issue.]
C. The domain name(s) was/were registered and is/are being used in bad faith.
(Policy, paragraphs 4(a)(iii), 4(b); Rules, paragraph 3(b)(ix)(3))
• [In accordance with Rules, Paragraph 3(b)(ix)(3), describe why the domain name(s) should be considered as having been registered and used in bad faith by the Respondent. Attention should be paid to any relevant aspects of the Policy, Paragraph 4(b), including:
– Circumstances indicating that the domain name(s) was/were registered or acquired primarily for the purpose of selling, renting, or otherwise transferring the domain name registration(s) to the owner of the trademark or service mark (normally the Complainant) or to a competitor of that Complainant, for valuable consideration in excess of the Respondent’s out-of-pocket costs directly related to the domain name(s); or
– Whether the domain name(s) was/were registered in order to prevent the owner of the trademark or service mark from reflecting the mark in a corresponding domain name, provided that the Respondent has engaged in a pattern of such conduct; or
– Whether the domain name(s) was/were registered primarily for the purpose of disrupting the business of a competitor; or
– Whether by using the domain name(s), the Respondent intentionally attempted to attract for commercial gain, Internet users to the Respondent’s web site or other on-line location, by creating a likelihood of confusion with the Complainant’s mark as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation, or endorsement of the Respondent’s web site or location or of a product or service on the Respondent’s web site or location.]
VII. Remedies Requested
(Rules, Paragraph 3(b)(x))
[13.] In accordance with Paragraph 4(i) of the Policy, for the reasons described in Section VI. above, the Complainant requests the Administrative Panel appointed in this administrative proceeding that [“
VIII. Administrative Panel
(Rules, Paragraph 3(b)(iv); Supplemental Rules, Paragraph 8(a))
[14.] The Complainant elects to have the dispute decided by a [choose one: “single member Administrative Panel” / or “three-member Administrative Panel”].
[ ] [If a three-member Administrative Panel is designated, the names of three persons must be provided, one of whom the Center shall attempt to appoint to the Administrative Panel in accordance with Paragraph 6 of the Rules and Paragraph 8 of the Supplemental Rules. The names of the nominees may be taken from the Center’s published list of panelists at https://arbiter.wipo.int/domains/panel/panelists.html.]
IX. Mutual Jurisdiction
(Rules, Paragraph 3(b)(xii))
[15.] In accordance with Paragraph 3(b)(xii) of the Rules, the Complainant will submit, with respect to any challenges that may be made by the Respondent to a decision by the Administrative Panel to transfer or cancel the domain name(s) that is/are the subject of this Complaint, to the jurisdiction of the courts at [choose one of the following:]
(a) “the location of the principal office of the concerned registrar.” or
(b) “the location of the domain name holder’s address, as shown for the registration of the domain name(s) in the concerned registrar’s WhoIs database at the time of the submission of the Complaint to the Center.” or
(c) “the location of the principal office of the concerned registrar AND the domain name holder’s address, as shown for the registration of the domain name(s) in the concerned registrar’s WhoIs database at the time of the submission of the Complaint to the Center.”
[A Mutual Jurisdiction election must be made for each domain name that is the subject of the Complaint.]
X. Other Legal Proceedings
(Rules, Paragraph 3(b)(xi))
[16.] [If any, identify other legal proceedings that have been commenced or terminated in connection with or relating to the domain name(s) that is/are the subject of the Complaint and summarize the issues that are the subject of that/those proceeding(s).]
(Rules Paragraph 3(b), Supplemental Rules, Paragraphs 3, 4, 12)
[17.] This Complaint has been submitted to the Center in electronic form, including annexes, in the appropriate format.
[18.] A copy of this Complaint has been transmitted to the concerned registrar(s) on 2023 in electronic form in accordance with paragraph 4(c) of the Supplemental Rules.
(Rules, Paragraph 19; Supplemental Rules Paragraph 10, Annex D)
[19.] As required by the Rules and Supplemental Rules, payment in the amount of USD [amount] has been made by [method]. (Payment by credit card should be made using the Center’s secure online payment facility. For any payment-related queries or difficulties, please contact the Center Secretariat on (+41 22) 338 8247, or email the Center at [email protected]).
(Rules, Paragraph 3(b)(xiii); Supplemental Rules, Paragraph 15)
[20.] The Complainant agrees that its claims and remedies concerning the registration of the domain name(s), the dispute, or the dispute’s resolution shall be solely against the domain name holder and waives all such claims and remedies against (a) the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center and Panelists, except in the case of deliberate wrongdoing, (b) the concerned registrar(s), (c) the registry administrator, (d) the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, as well as their directors, officers, employees, and agents.
[21.] The Complainant certifies that the information contained in this Complaint is to the best of the Complainant’s knowledge complete and accurate, that this Complaint is not being presented for any improper purpose, such as to harass, and that the assertions in this Complaint are warranted under the Rules and under applicable law, as it now exists or as it may be extended by a good-faith and reasonable argument.
XIV. List of Annexes
(Rules, Paragraph 3(b)(xiv); Supplemental Rules, Paragraphs 4(a), 12(a), Annex E)
[22.] The Rules provide that a Complaint or Response, including any annexes, shall be submitted electronically. Under the Supplemental Rules, there is a file size limit of 10MB (ten megabytes) for any one attachment, with an overall limit for all submitted materials of no more than 50MB (fifty megabytes).
 In particular, paragraph 12 and Annex E of the Supplemental Rules provides that, other than by prior arrangement with the Center, the size of any individual file (such as a document in Word, PDF or Excel format) transmitted to the Center in connection with any UDRP proceeding shall itself be no larger than 10MB. When larger amounts of data need to be transmitted, larger files can be “split” into a number of separate files or documents each no larger than 10MB. The total size of a Complaint or response (including any annexes) filed in relation to a UDRP dispute shall not exceed 50MB, other than in exceptional circumstances (including in the case of pleadings concerning a large number of disputed domain names) where previously arranged with the Center.
[Additionally, to avoid any uncertainty, it is requested that any Annexes (and their corresponding filenames) be clearly labeled and sequentially numbered (i.e. Annex 1, 2, 3 etc), and a complete list of Annexes supplied].