By Zak Muscovitch.

Chinese domain name registrants are taking a strong second place after the United States, in being named as respondents in WIPO domain name disputes.

Since 2000, Chinese complainants have only brought a handful of UDRP Complaints to WIPO, with about an average of only 7 per year or so. On the other hand, Chinese domain name registrants are being increasingly named as respondents in WIPO UDRP proceedings.

Although Chinese complainants have only filed 98 WIPO complaints since 2000 (only .38% of all WIPO UDRP complainants), Chinese respondents have been named in a whopping 2,258 WIPO cases, and make up nearly 9% of all WIPO respondents. 

Although Chinese respondents were only named 43 times in 2000, that number has gradually increased all the way to 501 in 2012. Although United States respondents hold a strong first place with nearly 35% of all WIPO cases being made against them, if the numbers continue their trajectory, we will see increased involvement of Chinese domain name registrants in UDRP's. 

ADNDRC to Become Larger UDRP Player?

What is interesting, is that for some reason, complainants, even when based outside of Asia, are using the ADNDRC particularly where the registrant is located in Asia. Even though such proceedings are often in English, it is apparent that intellectual property counsel are often choosing the ADNDRC to deal with Asian-based cybersquatters, even though they may also use WIPO, NAF, or even the CAC in  many such circumstances. 

Although the Asian-based ADNDRC (Asian Domain Name Dispute Resolution Centre) with offices in Beijing  Hong Kong, Seoul, and Kuala Lumpur, was accredited by ICANN in 2001 as a UDRP dispute resolution provider (shortly after Geneva-based WIPO, Minnesota-based NAF, and the now defunct Canadian-based eResolution), it has not, to-date enjoyed a particularly high profile amongst either North American or European complainants or respondents. 


Nevertheless, according to data from published ADNDRC decisions, it appears to have adjudicated  over 1100 domain name disputes amongst its four offices. In 2012 alone, it adjudicated about 186 domain name disputes. 

From reviewing the domicile of the listed complaints, it appears that although complainants are from all over the world, a disproportionate number are Asian. Furthermore, the vast majority of named respondents in these cases are from Asia and from mainland China, in particular.

Remarkably, some of the world's major brands are using the ADNDRC for their domain name disputes. Major corporations such as 3M, Apple, Zippo, Seiko Epson, Otis Elevator, Bose, and Siemens, to name but a few, have all used the ADNDRC as complainants. In addition, a wide range of large and small Asian and Chinese companies have used the ADNDRC as well, including such major brands as ZTE, Changi Airport Group, Shangri La Hotels, and Cathay Pacific. 

One possible explanation is that the head offices of many non-Asian multinational companies are referring cases involving Asian cybersquatters to IP counsel in Asia, to deal with. Another more likely explanation, is that where a domain name was registered with a Chinese registrar and the language of the registration agreement is Chinese, for example, pursuant to Rule 11 of the UDRP Supplemental Rules, the UDRP proceeding must be brought in the language of the registration agreement.

From the foregoing, it appears that UDRP domain name disputes will increasingly relate to, and involve Asian, and particularly Chinese-based parties. We can therefore expect the ADNDRC to become increasingly prominent in UDRP case adjudication. When the International Trademark Association has their annual meeting in Hong Kong in 2014, we can also expect to see a more prominent role taken by the ADNDRC as a result.

With the application for ICANN accreditation by Middle Eastern-based domain name dispute provider, The Arab Center for Dispute Resolution (ACDR), if approved, we will perhaps also see an increase in Middle Eastern based complainants as well, although probably not to an extent comparable with the ADNDRC in the short term. 

Since the language of the domain name registration agreement appears to play a significant role in the reason why complaints are brought to the ADNDRC, and since Asian registrars are more common than Middle Eastern ones, the volume of domain name disputes sent to the ACDR once approved by ICANN, would probably not not be comparable to the other regional dispute resolution provider, at least not until greater registrar penetration is achieved throughout arab speaking countries. For example, the only ICANN accredited registrars in the Middle East are in Jordan (1) and the UAE (1). In comparison, there are 32 in China. 

It will be interesting to watch to see if the UDRP continues to greater involve Asian-based parties, and even Middle Eastern-based parties in the future.



 


Written by Zak Muscovitch

Nothing is more frustrating for a trademark owner than paying expensive domain name dispute arbitration fees to a domain name dispute resolution provider such as NAF or WIPO, and paying an expensive lawyer to file a complaint for you on top of it, only to later learn that it was all a giant waste of time and money. Unfortunately  this happens all to often to unwary brand owners.

Domain name attorneys are lawyers who practice exclusively or primarily in domain name dispute law, and regularly appear before various online arbitration service providers such as the National Arbitration Forum (NAF), the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), the Czech Arbitration Court Centrer for Internet Disputes (ADR.eu), (and the Asian Domain Name Dispute Resolution Centre (ADNDRC) , in connection with a Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution (UDRP) or similar dispute resolution regimes.

Hiring a domain name attorney who is experienced in the intricacies of such procedures and is also up-to-date on case law developments, is crucial for avoiding mistakes and avoiding throwing away money. Experienced domain name dispute lawyers are often different from general litigators and intellectual property lawyers, as they work within the niche of domain name disputes. Accordingly, hiring a generalist, even if it is an excellent and reputable lawyer, can be a mistake if it turns out what you really needed was an expert in domain name disputes. With short time periods, often arcane rules and procedures, and unique policy aspects, an expert domain name attorney can guide you in the right direction from the start, and will often counsel you to not wade into a dispute that you cannot win.


The following ADNDRC press release was brought to my attention by IDNFORUMS.COM members.

Announcement on Domain Name Dispute Cases Handled by The Asian Domain Name Dispute Resolution Centre (Hong Kong Office) Hong Kong.

5 October 2009 - The Asian Domain Name Dispute Resolution Centre (ADNDRC) announced today that the ADNDRC Council has formed a special committee to investigate whether, in view of the potential claims which have been made against the Hong Kong Office of the ADNDRC and its personnel, there are potential liabilities of ADNDRC caused by any wrongdoings or misconduct on the part of ADNDRC administrative personnel in Hong Kong, in connection with its handling of domain name disputes. The special committee is comprised of Hon Justice Michael Hartmann (chair), Mr Robin Peard JP and Mr Fred Kan. The special committee will report its findings to the ADNDRC Council for such action as it deems appropriate. Allegations made against certain individual ADNDRC Panelists will be investigated by the ADNDRC Council directly. Pending the outcome of these investigations, the ADNDRC will make no public comment on the matters which are the subject of the investigation. About Asian Domain Name Dispute Resolution Centre (“ADNDRC”) (Hong Kong Office)

The Asian Domain Name Dispute Resolution Centre (“ADNDRC”) is one of only four (4) providers in the world and the first and only one located in Asia, of dispute resolution services in regards to generic top level domain names (gTLD's), which are the top level domains approved by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), which appointed the ADNDRC as a domain name dispute provider on 3 December 2001. To learn more about the ADNDRC, please visit: http://www.adndrc.org/.

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This is simply shocking that there have been serious enough complaints and reasons for the ADNDRC to have to commence an investigation of possible misconduct.

In the 10 years of domain name dispute resolution, an investigation of misconduct by an arbitration provider is unprecedented. We must watch the outcome of this very carefuly....

ADDENDUM:
Here are some more apparent details from another news item:
http://www.abnnewswire.net/press/en/61579/Cheung-Kong-(Holdings)-Limited.html