Domain Name Rules
Without question, domain names now constitute valuable intangible assets. However, there remains some dispute as to whether they constitute intellectual property, akin to patents and trade marks. In the opinion of ip4all, the best way to characterize the legal status of a domain name is by analogy to a telephone number. Once registered, the registrant merely has a contractual right or licence to use the domain name, and registration does not provide the registrant with any proprietary rights.
One consequence of the apparent legal status of domain names is that there is no legislation governing their law and practice. However, there is a Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy operated by ICANN to deal with situations where there is a disagreement as to the identity of the rightful registrant of a particular domain name.
In order to succeed in a complaint, a complainant must prove (on the balance of probabilities) that:
- the domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a trade mark in which the complainant has rights;
- the respondent holder has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the domain name; and
- the domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.
The rules for gTLDs (e.g. .com, .net, and .biz) are slightly different to those for the .eu domain names, and therefore both sets of rules are provided below.
Rules for Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy – 30 October 2009
Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy 1999
.eu Alternative Dispute Resolution Rules