As is common in cases like Lybrands where the domain registrant is a cheap opportunist, he did not respond to the complaint filed with the WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization) Arbitration and Mediation Center.
The one-person panel found the name confusingly similar to Microsofts, cited a bunch of precedents and awarded the domain to Microsoft.
The entire process was fast, as legal proceedings go:
|Domain advertised on eBay
|Registrant contacted by Microsoft
||12/22/2004 (same-day service!)
|Complaint filed with WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
|Registrar contacted by WIPO
|Respondent notified of complaint
|No response from respondent, past due
|Panelist assigned to case
I call that fast. And the fees paid to lawyers and the arbitration center
are very reasonable, as legal fees go. Obviously legal fees vary from lawyer to lawyer, but Schwimmer thinks a case where someone is pursued through URDP can be defended for about $2,500. Of course, if youve got a loser case like Lybrand did, you should save your money.
There have been many interesting cases along these lines involving sites like hillaryclinton.com
(a Wal-Mart critic).
If Faceless International Conglomerate Inc. accuses you of stealing its trademark through your domain and challenges you through this process, do you have a chance? Schwimmer says that in cases where the respondent opts for the three-member panel and responds to the complaint, the respondent wins half the time. This doesnt say how many of the cases would seem meritorious to you or me, but it would seem that these are the cases that get the most scrutiny. They likely cost more and take longer, too.
Schwimmer says that problems come when there is a real, disputed factual record or some relationship between parties (such as in the breakup of a business or if the case is between licensees and distributors, as in the famous Raiderettes case
But any of these processes is likely to be much faster and less risky than civil litigation, which can take years and cost more than the case is worth. A civil suit does hold the possibility of a temporary restraining order or, if there is egregious abuse, recovery of costs, but its a high-stakes game.
The problem with the UDRP is not what it does, but what it doesnt do. Its not designed for other problems which have come to the forefront since the UDRP was conceived. ICANN has handled domain hijacking badly, but its good to see that they do get right the things they set out to do.
Security Center Editor Larry Seltzer has worked in and written about the computer industry since 1983.
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