auDRP

Lots of people would agree that one of the downsides of the Internet is the prevalence of “cybersquatting” – ie. people registering domain names that they have no right to hold, and then attempting to exploit them for commercial gain at the expense of the “real” owner.

Unfortunately, even with our relatively restrictive policy rules and registration processes, we can’t completely prevent cybersquatting on .au domain names.

The .au Dispute Resolution Policy (auDRP) is an independent arbitration process for dealing  with cybersquatting cases in the .au domain. It is designed to be an easier, quicker and cheaper alternative to litigation. The auDRP is modelled on the Uniform Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP) which applies to .com and most other gTLDs.

In August this year, we introduced changes to require electronic filing and transmission of auDRP complaints – what we call “auDRPe”. This follows similar changes to the UDRP in March – known as “eUDRP". Before these changes, people had to lodge all documentation in hard copy, often running to hundreds of pages.

Not only is the auDRPe kinder to the environment (and to the poor person chained to the photocopier!), it should also lead to quicker turnaround times for proceedings, as parties and Panelists won’t need to wait for postal delivery of documents.

Last week, in conjunction with auDRP Provider LEADR, we held training sessions in Sydney and Melbourne for auDRP Panelists and other interested people. The sessions covered the new auDRPe, and also some auDRP basics for people who are new to the process.

We revisited the development of the UDRP and the auDRP, and the key differences between the two policies. Under the UDRP, the complainant must show that the domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a trade or service mark that they own. Under the auDRP, this ground is broader to include a name, trade or service mark that the complainant owns, eg. a company or business name, or their personal name.

Another point on which the auDRP departs from the UDRP is that complainants in UDRP have to prove that the domain name was registered and used in bad faith, whereas complainants in auDRP only have to prove that the domain name was registered or used in bad faith – a much lower threshold.

A number of Panelists attended the training sessions, and there was some good discussion on auDRP policy and practicalities. We received suggestions for further improvements to the auDRP, which we will certainly look at in more detail – including the suggestion to hold more training sessions in future.

A big thank you to auDRP Panelists Philip Argy and Sara Delpopolo and LEADR case manager Alyce Andraos for their participation in the sessions. I trust they got as much out of the experience as we did!

For more information about the auDRP see http://www.auda.org.au/audrp/audrp-overview/.

If you have any feedback please direct your inquiries to blog@auda.org.au

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