WIPO Confirms Another Record Year for Domain Name Disputes (2018)

WIPO has now confirmed what I noted in December: 2018 was a record year for domain name disputes.

According to the final tally, trademark owners filed 3,447 complaints with WIPO under the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP). That’s an increase of more than 12 percent from the previous year, which also had set a record.

WIPO attributed its large caseload of domain name disputes in part to “the proliferation of websites used for counterfeit sales, fraud, phishing, and other forms of online trademark abuse.”

Interestingly, the total number of disputed domain names actually dropped to 5,655 from 6,371, reducing the average number of domain names per complaint from 2.07 to 1.64. (A single complaint can include multiple domain names, if they are “registered by the same domain-name holder.”) The decrease might be attributed to the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which has made it more difficult for trademark owners to identify some domain name registrants.

WIPO reported that new generic top-level domains represented 13 percent of all disputed domain names in cases it handled in 2018, a slight increase from 2017.

Not surprisingly, .com remains the most popular TLD in disputed domain names. Here’s WIPO’s list of the top 10 TLDs ranked by their appearance in 2018 disputes (new gTLDs are listed in bold):

  1. .com (72.88%)

  2. .net (4.64%)

  3. .org (3.50%)

  4. .info (2.23%)

  5. .online (1.55%)

  6. .life (1.15%)

  7. .app (1.14%)

  8. .xyz (1.10%)

  9. .pro (0.88%)

  10. .top (0.76%)

Other highlights from WIPO’s annual report on domain name disputes:

  • Philip Morris remained the most active filer of UDRP complaints, increasing the number of cases it initiated from 91 to 129.

  • The top industries represented by trademark owners in UDRP disputes are banking and finance; biotechnology and pharmaceuticals; Internet and IT; fashion; heavy industry and machinery; retail; entertainment; hotels and travel, food, beverage and restaurants; and electronics.

  • Trademark owners in the United States remain the most popular filer of UDRP complaints, increasing 6.2 percent from 2017. The next leading countries represented are France, the United Kingdom, Germany, Switzerland, Malta, Sweden, Italy, the Nertherlands and Spain.

  • Almost 500 domain name disputes involved country code top-level domains (ccTLDs), with .ai (Anguilla), .ge (Georgia) and .py (Paraguay) joining the 75 ccTLDs for which WIPO now provides services.

WIPO’s data provides only a limited picture of domain name disputes, but it is probably indicative of overall trends because WIPO is the largest of the five UDRP service providers. (An application by a potential sixth provider, the Canada International Internet Dispute Resolution Centre (CIIDRC), was filed in 2018.)

At The Forum, the second-largest UDRP service provider, 1,574 decisions were issued in 2018, an increase of more than 13 percent from the previous year.