Domain names have become highly valuable to businesses due to growing consumer demands for businesses to have their products and services available online. As more and more businesses create an online presence to meet these demands, disputes arising from competing rights and interests in domain names have become prevalent.
Types of Domain Name Disputes
The type of dispute that you are involved in will affect your available options for resolution. We have listed the most common situations that give rise to a domain name dispute below. If these situations do not adequately reflect your dispute, please contact one of GLG Legal’s expert solicitors who will be able to assist you in your matter.
Cybersquatting occurs when an unauthorised party with no legitimate interest in a domain name registers that domain name in bad faith in order to receive a commercial benefit. Cybersquatting will be apparent if either of the following circumstances happens to you:
- The cybersquatting domain name is a misspelling and/or a very similar spelling to your domain name:
- The cybersquatting domain name has the same or similar spelling to your domain name but it uses a different domain extension:
The cybersquatting party will often monetise their domain, trying to reap the benefits of users who were trying to find your domain. In previous cases, the cybersquatting party has offered to sell the domain name at a marked-up price to businesses who wanted to quickly resolve the dispute. However, this should only be a last resort resolution as there are many other options you are able to seek resolution through.
If you have a registered trademark and another individual or business uses that trademark as their domain name, you may be able to commence a trademark dispute in order to obtain control of the domain name.
This will not apply in all cases and sometimes, it may not be your best option for resolution. We highly advise you to contact us to see if you are eligible for this type of claim in a domain name dispute.
Someone else has registered your business name as their domain name
It is becoming more and more commonplace for another business to have the same or similar domain name to yours because their business has the same name. This is because more businesses worldwide are shifting their services and products online to reach the online market. Sometimes, you might find that the name of your business is also the name of a business in New Zealand or Canada.
If another person or another business has registered your business name as their own domain name, you may be able to seek resolution under either the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution (UDPR) or the .au Dispute Resolution Policy (auDRP) by lodging a complaint.
Resolving a Domain Name Dispute
There are two primary methods for you to consider when attempting to resolve a domain name dispute, these include:
- lodging a complaint under the UDPR or under the auDRP; or
- commencing court proceedings.
We always recommend that you first attempt to resolve your dispute through lodging a complaint to the appropriate body as opposed to commencing court proceedings which are known to be expensive and drawn-out.
If you cannot determine who to commence proceedings against then lodging a complaint under the UDPR or the auDRP will be the most appropriate option for you. This does happen often due to the difficulty in being able to accurately determine who is behind the domain as some people will use proxies or fake identities when making these domains.
How to determine whether you need to file your complaint under the UDPR or the auDRP
Your domain name extension will determine whether you need to lodge your complaint under the UDPR or the auDRP.
If your domain’s extension is ‘.com’ or ‘.net’, you will need to lodge your complaint under the UDPR.
If your domain name has the extension of ‘.com.au’ or ‘.net.au’, you will need to lodge your complaint under the auDRP. Please note that the auDRP does not deal with domain name extensions ending in ‘.edu.au’ or ‘.gov.au’.
Both complaints under the UDPR and the auDRP are to be completed and lodged online. They are often finalised within two to three months, depending upon how complex your matter is.
Not sure where to start? We can help
Domain name disputes can be a relatively complex area due to it being a new and developing area of law. It is essential that you obtain legal advice in relation to your domain name dispute to ensure that your rights are being protected and that you are obtaining the most suitable solution for your business.
At GLG Legal, our expert lawyers will assist you in understanding the process in resolving your domain name dispute and guide in you making the right decisions to ensure that your domain name rights are protected in the future.