Friday, May 27, 2011

Preliminary Issue Report On The Current State Of The UDRP

The World of Domain Name is fast changing. Whether it is the Policy decisions or the issues of securing Internet and Domain Names, lots of development is taking place these days. Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has been taking many pro active steps in this regard. For instance, recently ICANN and INTERPOL have agreed to work in the direction of securing Internet.

ICANN has also widely contributed for the World of Domain Names. ICANN has formulated the Uniform Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP) that has been in effect for over 10 years. It is widely recognised as one of ICANN’s defining accomplishments from its formative years. While not perfect, the UDRP has successfully offered parties a far less expensive alternative to costly litigation for resolving international disputes involving domain name cybersquatting. In the last decade, the Internet community has come to rely on the consistency, predictability, efficiency, and fairness generally associated with the present implementation of the UDRP.

The UDRP has not been reviewed by the GNSO Council since its inception. Now a Preliminary Issue Report on the Current State of the UDRP has been prepared at the request of the GNSO Council and it has been posted online for public comment. The Public Comment period ends on 15 July 2011. Upon the publication of the Final Issue Report, the GNSO Council will determine whether to commence a Policy Development Process (PDP) on the UDRP.

In response to the GNSO Council’s request, Staff conducted preliminary research on the UDRP to identify issues for inclusion in this Report. Due to the tremendous volume of cases and materials available regarding the UDRP (including, over 300,000 hits on Google alone), it became clear that there was no effective way to evaluate these materials. Instead, at the suggestion of the GNSO Council, Staff conducted a Webinar on the Current State of the UDRP (UDRP Webinar), to solicit feedback and information from UDRP experts and representatives from a broad cross-section of stakeholders.

While periodic assessment of policies can be beneficial to guard against unexpected results or inefficient process, the GNSO Council should consider the perspective of the ICANN community with regard to whether such review is necessary or warranted. Although properly within the scope of the GNSO’s mandate, Staff recommends that a PDP on the UDRP not be initiated at this time. However, if the GNSO Council nevertheless believes that the UDRP should be reviewed, Staff suggests an alternative approach for addressing this issue. After carefully evaluating the issues and concerns expressed by the ICANN community regarding the UDRP, Staff has concluded that many issues relate to process issues associated with the implementation of the UDRP, rather than the language of the policy itself. The GNSO Council should consider in lieu of commencing a PDP, convening a small group of experts to produce recommendations to improve the process or implementation of the UDRP policy as an initial step. If after consideration of such expert recommendations, there continues to be a desire to conduct a more thorough review of the UDRP, the GNSO Council could subsequently initiate a more focused PDP at that time.

This Report addresses the GNSO’s specific request for information on:

(1) How the UDRP has addressed the problem of cybersquatting to date, and any insufficiencies/inequalities associated with the process.

(2) Whether the definition of cybersquatting inherent within the existing UDRP language needs to be reviewed or updated.

This is an opportunity for the ICANN community to provide its views on the current state of the UDRP, and on whether a Policy Development process should be initiated to review the UDRP. This Report will be updated to reflect such feedback in the Final Issue Report to be presented to the GNSO Council after the closing of this public comment forum.

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