When and How to Include Multiple Complainants in a URS Proceeding

As a relatively new domain name dispute policy, the Uniform Rapid Suspension System (URS) is still raising questions. Among them: Can multiple parties jointly file a URS complaint? For proceedings under the longstanding Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP), the answer seems relatively clear: Yes, under certain circumstances.

Multiple Complainants in UDRP Proceedings

The WIPO Overview of WIPO Panel Views on Selected UDRP Questions, Second Edition ("WIPO Overview 2.0"), says (for UDRP -- not URS -- proceedings) that multiple complainants may be appropriate under the following circumstances:

[S]ituations in which (i) the complainants either have a specific common grievance against the respondent, or the respondent has engaged in common conduct that has affected the complainants' individual rights in a similar fashion; (ii) it would be equitable and procedurally efficient to permit the consolidation; or in the case of complaints brought (whether or not filed by multiple complainants) against more than one respondent, where (i) the domain names or the websites to which they resolve are subject to common control, and (ii) the consolidation would be fair and equitable to all parties.

The WIPO Overview 2.0 also makes clear that, "[i]n most circumstances, a licensee of a trademark or a related company such as a subsidiary or parent to the registered holder of a trademark is considered to have rights in a trademark under the UDRP."

Indeed, it is not at all uncommon for a UDRP complaint to be brought by multiple complainants, such as where one is a licensee of the other or where they "are part of a group of companies under [a] parent company."

Multiple Complainants in URS Proceedings

The URS, however, is less developed, given the relatively few decisions that have been issued under it. Still, paragraph 1.1.3 of the URS makes clear that "[o]ne Complaint is acceptable for multiple related companies against one Registrant, but only if the companies complaining are related" (emphasis added).

Indeed, a number of URS decisions already have been published that involved more than one complainant, such as American Council on Education et al. v. BMS solutions, NAF Claim No. 1552755, in which one complainant held an exclusive trademark license from the other; and Carlson, Inc. and its subsidiaries et al. v. Wang Liqun et al., NAF Claim No. 1619076, which apparently involved a parent company and multiple subsidiaries (perhaps because three trademarks were at issue).

Thus, it appears clear that the URS allows multiple complainants to participate in a single proceeding. But, how to do so is not readily apparent.

Fortunately, the Forum's online URS filing system expressly contemplates multiple complainants, with an option to "enter information for each complainant." If so, the filing party is then given a form field to "describe the complainant relationship" -- a very useful step that avoids having to use the precious 500-word narrative reserved for the substance of the complaint.

Unfortunately, the URS filing system for the Asian Domain Name Dispute Resolution Centre (ADNDRC) does not appear to contain a similar option to identify and describe the relationship among multiple complainants.