New UDRP Rules at Forum Eliminate Fees for Supplemental Filings

The Forum has revised its supplemental rules for the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP), finally eliminating its controversial mandatory fee for supplemental filings but also raising the base price for complaints slightly.

According to the Forum, the new supplemental rules will become effective October 1, 2019.

Under the previous version of its supplemental rules, the Forum explicitly allowed a party to “submit additional written statements and documents“ in a five-day window, but it charged “an additional submission fee” of $400. The new version of the Forum’s supplemental rules eliminates the time period for filing additional information as well as the $400 fee. Instead, the supplemental rules now simply state:

If a party requests an additional written submission be considered by the Panel, the additional submission must be sent to FORUM along with proof of service on the opposing party(s). FORUM will forward all additional submissions to the Panel. It is within the discretion of the Panel to accept or consider additional unsolicited submission(s).

As the Forum has stated, this change is intended “to reflect the practice of other providers” that have never charged a fee for supplemental filings — that is, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), the Czech Arbitration Court (CAC), the Asian Domain Name Dispute Resolution Centre (ADNDRC), and the Arab Center for Domain Name Dispute Resolution (ACDR).

Indeed, the Forum’s practice of charging parties for supplemental filings has always been unusual. In a 2002 UDRP decision, a three-member panel at the Forum refused to consider a complainant’s additional document, even though the complainant presumably paid the additional filing fee. In that case, the panel said that “the Supplemental Rule could not require Panels to accept these supplemental filings because that would violate Uniform Rule 12 of the ICANN Policy, which vests the discretion to request and accept supplemental materials solely with the Panel,” adding that “[n]o provider’s Supplemental Rules can override the Policy or Uniform Rules and the discretion they vest in the Panels appointed thereunder.”

Along with eliminating the additional filing fee, the Forum has raised the initial filing fee by a modest $30. Now, a single-member UDRP complaint for one or two domain names will be $1,330.

By eliminating the additional fee for supplemental filings, parties at the Forum should now have the same expectation as at the other UDRP service providers, which typically defer to panels to consider whether a supplemental filing will be considered. WIPO says that “panels have repeatedly affirmed that the party submitting or requesting to submit an unsolicited supplemental filing should clearly show its relevance to the case and why it was unable to provide the information contained therein in its complaint or response (e.g., owing to some ‘exceptional’ circumstance).”

The Forum’s new supplemental rules should not have any practical implication on UDRP proceedings but instead create greater uniformity in both practice and fees among the various UDRP service providers.