New UDRP Rules Will Help Reduce 'Cyberflight'

A new set of rules for the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy will help to reduce one troublesome tactic used by cybersquatters -- "cyberflight."

Cyberflight has been defined as as "an attempt to avoid or delay judicial or UDRP proceedings by changing domain registration details or registrars after learning of a complaint." Many domain name dispute panels have found that "this conduct is itself an indication of bad-faith registration and use under Paragraph 4(b)" of the UDRP.

The new rules are effective as of July 31, 2015.

Under the old rules, it was unclear when a domain name's registrar was required to "lock" a domain name after a UDRP complaint was filed. As a result, there was often a small window of opportunity for a registrant to transfer a domain name (typically to an accomplice) after a complaint was filed but before the dispute provider (such as WIPO or NAF) officially "commenced" the proceeding. If a transfer occurred, then the complainant would have to amend the UDRP complaint to identify the new registrant (which also could affect the factual arguments) or even terminate the case. Either result would be expensive, time-consuming and frustrating.

Fortunately, the new rules clarify when a domain name should be locked. Specifically, under the new rules, the party filing a UDRP complaint (that is, the complainant) is no longer required to notify the registrant about the complaint. Instead, Rule 4 now says:

Within two (2) business days of receiving the Provider's verification request, the Registrar shall provide the information requested in the verification request and confirm that a Lock of the domain name has been applied. The Registrar shall not notify the Respondent of the proceeding until the Lock status has been applied. The Lock shall remain in place through the remaining Pendency of the UDRP proceeding.

To be clear, the rules state that a "Lock" means "a set of measures that a registrar applies to a domain name, which prevents at a minimum any modification to the registrant and registrar information by the Respondent, but does not affect the resolution of the domain name or the renewal of the domain name."

This rule change has been a long time in the making; indeed, WIPO advocated for it more than seven years ago.

Now, domain name disputes will be able to proceed with one less procedural trick in play.