Domain Name Dispute Filings Rise as New gTLDs Launch

Buried in a recent WIPO press release was news that "cybersquatting case filings" increased 2 percent in 2014, to 2,634 cases. This spike, although only slight, is especially interesting because it follows a year in which the number of cases had declined by about 10 percent.

The 2014 increase may be attributable to two factors related to ICANN's new global top-level domain (gTLD) program:

  • First, the distractions and expense associated with the application and objection process that consumed much of trademark owners' time in 2013 has now passed.
  • Second, the actual launch of some new gTLDs has created more opportunities for cybersquatting that brand owners are pursuing.

As a result, the number of domain name dispute filings may continue to rise in 2015 and could even surpass WIPO's peak in 2012, when 2,884 cases were filed.

Indeed, if filings under the new Uniform Rapid Suspension System (URS) -- which applies to the new gTLDs -- are included, the increase this year could be significant. However, because WIPO does not accept URS filings (the only providers are the National Arbitration Forum (NAF) and the Asian Domain Name Dispute Resolution Centre (ADNDRC)), WIPO's statistics will not convey the complete picture.

Interestingly, while .com remains the most popular TLD in domain name disputes, a number of the new gTLDs already are showing up in UDRP cases. For example, in 2014, 36 .email domains were represented in WIPO UDRP filings, as well as 20 .club domains, 11 .clothing domains and 11 .company domains. So far in 2015, .email and .club remain among the most popular new gTLDs in UDRP proceedings.