ICANN Suggests New Suspension System in Trademark Report

Ariana Rodriguez
CYBERSPACE — A team set up by ICANN to recommend proposals has filed its final report on trademark protection in the implementation of new generic top-level domains. Among its recommendations, a system that immediately takes down URLs has drawn a great deal of criticism.

Called the Uniform Rapid Suspension system, it would operate in addition to ICANN’s existing Uniform Domain-Name Dispute Resolution Policy as a “rapid takedown” system that allows trademark holders to avoid the time delay and costs of the former policy.

According to the report, “The URS is not intended for use in any questionable proceedings, but only clear cases of trademark abuse.”

A domain with a complaint against it would become locked but still functional after a complaint has been filed. The domain owner then has 14 days to respond and state his case. If the domain owner fails to respond or his case is deemed defective, the domain will remain locked and will not resolve for the duration of the registration period.

If a satisfactory response is sent within 14 days, it goes to an examiner that will consider the case.

According to the recommendation panel, examiners will look at cases through an increased “evidentiary threshold level” and greater burden of proof on the complainant.

Currently, when a UDRP is filed, although locked by the registry, the domain remains in the control of the domain holder until the decision is handed down in federal court.

The proposed system also will be more affordable for trademark holders at $200 per claim where each claim can contain up to 100 domains, compared to the $4,000-plus cost of a UDRP that includes filing and attorneys fees.

With ICANN’s comment period open until June 29, the public has expressed its dissatisfaction with the proposal, including concerns that the ease of takedowns would lead to an increase of complaints.

The Trademark Protection Open Forum contains about 72 posts of which the majority condemn the URS.

“This opens the door for enterprises to make dubious claims at low cost and low risk against parties that will, in many cases, be at a significant financial and legal resource disadvantage to defend their legitimate holdings,” wrote a respondent named David Eliason.

The report also suggests an IP clearinghouse and a universal trademark list.

Rights holders that submit an IP would be alerted when a new registration is using their marks. The Globally Protected Marks List would allow holders of worldwide marks to be added to a “white list.” The requirements to be included consist of ownership of the trademark issued in at least 90 countries across multiple regions with 200 registrations, issued before November 2008, among other requirements.