Study of Domain Name Arbitration System Finds Tilt Toward Trademark Holders

Profession:Reed Smith Hall Dickler

A new study of over 3,800 domain name dispute arbitrations has found the process apparently skewed in favor of trademark holders. The June 24, 2002 study [pdf format], authored by Professor Milton L. Mueller of Syracuse University's Convergence Center, examined the outcomes of 3,845 disputes handled under the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy between December 1999 and July 2001.

The study found that the party filing the arbitration complaint - usually the trademark holder - prevailed in approximately eighty percent of arbitrations examined. In most of the arbitrations the respondent never even submitted a response and therefore defaulted and lost its right to the domain. "That raises procedural and equity questions about the process," Professor Mueller said. "If lots of domain holders feel intimidated or feel it's too expensive to respond, the whole process becomes simply a way for trademark holders to grab domain names."

The study was financed by the Markle Foundation, which funds studies of information technology. The foundation also funded work to develop a publicly available database containing information on the first 3,845...

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