URS Disputes Fall to a Record Low

Although a report from the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) -- the leading provider of services under the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP) -- shows a record number of domain name disputes were filed in 2017, WIPO's numbers don't include cases under the Uniform Rapid Suspension System (URS).

At the Forum (formerly the National Arbitration Forum), data for 2017 show that the URS is heading in the opposite direction of the UDRP.

According to records available from the Forum's website, the number of URS cases decided in 2017 dropped to only 148, down from 215 decisions in 2016. Not only is this a decrease of 31 percent, it is the least-active full year for URS decisions at the Forum since the policy went into effect in 2013.

The Forum is the most prominent of the three ICANN-approved URS providers, and the numbers from the other providers are even paltrier: It appears as if the Asian Domain Name Dispute Resolution Centre did not issue any URS determinations in 2017, while MFSD decided only five URS cases in 2017.

Interestingly, even the low number of URS determinations at the Forum doesn't by itself convey how unappealing the policy has become. Of the 148 cases decided in 2017, many involved the same trademark owner. For example, 26 cases were filed by only two companies: Virgin Enterprises (13) and Bloomberg (13).

By comparison, WIPO handled 3,074 UDRP cases in 2017.

Obviously, the URS, which primarily applies to new gTLDs and offers trademark owners only a limited suspension remedy, is losing traction. Although envisioned as a less-expensive and quicker alternative to the UDRP, the URS has never attracted much interest from trademark owners.

Among the reasons why the URS has failed to catch on: It doesn't apply to .com, the most popular TLD; it doesn't provide for the transfer of a domain name; it has a rigid filing process and an awkward system for appeals; and the small number of determinations offer almost no guidance to parties.

As a result, and as the numbers show, few trademark owners are even bothering to file complaints under the URS.

Clearly, the UDRP remains the preferred domain name dispute policy.