Here Come the New gTLD Domain Name Disputes

Much of the attention on domain name disputes among the new generic top-level domain names (gTLDs) has focused on the new dispute policy that arrived with them -- the Uniform Rapid Suspension System (URS). But, an increasing number of new gTLD registrations are being decided under the pre-existing (and well-entrenched) Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP). Recent UDRP decisions have included domain names using the following new gTLDs: .center, .club, .international, .lawyer, .online, .rentals, .repair, .site, .wang and .xyz.

The most popular new gTLD that has been subject to UDRP disputes appears to be .xyz, which has seen 67 domain names in proceedings at WIPO. (WIPO is the only UDRP service provider that publishes real-time, extensive data on its domain name cases, so the numbers in this blog post are drawn solely from WIPO unless otherwise specified.)

Here are the top 10 new gTLDs represented in UDRP disputes thus far:

  1. .xyz
  2. .email
  3. .club
  4. .name
  5. .wang
  6. .company
  7. .website
  8. .clothing
  9. .online
  10. .pub

There are some explanations why as to why certain new gTLDs appear more likely to result in disputes. For example, registrations in .xyz were initially free, which made it an easy target for abuse. The .club gTLD has simply proven popular, which means disputes are inevitable. And .email attracted one particularly aggressive cybersquatter who didn't hesitate to register many well-known trademarks as domain names.

As more of the new gTLDs launch and attract attention, the list above surely will change. For example, because many trademark owners are particularly sensitive to having their brands associated with adult content, it is possible that <.porn>, <.sex> and <.sexy> will generate more UDRP disputes.

Many of the new gTLD UDRP cases involve "traditional" types of cybersquatting -- that is, where the second-level domain name is identical (not just confusingly similar) to the complainant's trademark. For example: <>, <>, <>, <> and <> -- all of which have resulted in transfer decisions.

Indeed, such flagrant instances of cybersquatting may be what's prompting some trademark owners to file UDRP, not URS, complaints. A successful UDRP complaint allows a trademark owner to obtain the transfer of a disputed domain name (while a domain name in a URS proceeding can only be temporarily suspended). Given ongoing concerns about the worthiness of the URS -- including the limited suspension remedy and the challenges in actually winning a URS case, as demonstrated by some high-profile decisions -- the UDRP may become a more popular option for trademark owners that face cybersquatting in the new gTLDs.

Still, while the new gTLDs are resulting in more UDRP proceedings, they represent only a small fraction of the total number of UDRP disputes. For example, as of this writing, the top 10 gTLDs account for 185 total domain names at WIPO in 2015. By comparison, .com disputes remain the most popular, with 2,524 domain names during the same period.

It's likely that as the new gTLDs grow in popularity, so, too, will the number of related UDRP decisions.