The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (“ICANN”) is an organization at the center of online domain name issues and is responsible for, among other things, developing policies for registries (.com, .net, .info) and registrars (companies that sell domain names) to adhere to. ICANN is also behind the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (“UDRP”), which is meant to prevent cybersquatting and provide a means for brand owners to enforce rights to domain names that are confusingly similar to their trademarks.
As Traverse Legal has recently noted, identifying and contacting a privacy-protected domain name registrant to enforce intellectual property rights can be extremely difficult, especially in light of the General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”). If you have attempted to acquire the identity of a registrant from the domain name’s registrar, but have had minimal luck getting a response, ICANN’s Registrar Standards Complaint Form may be the right next step for you. This form is meant to allow users to submit a complaint related to a registrar and/or their reseller based upon a variety of reasons, with the idea that having a complaint come directly through ICANN may motivate the registrar to respond and provide recourse.
Submission of a Registrar Standards Complaint Form can be based upon one of the following grounds:
For purposes of Traverse Legal’s efforts to combat cybersquatting, #1 (Abuse) is the most relevant complaint that would be submitted to ICANN. The only caveat is that, before using the Registrar Standards Complaint Form, you must have already submitted to the registrar a complaint regarding the abuse occurring at a domain name with a request for the domain name registrant’s privacy-protected information. Helpful tips regarding this process can be found here.
While ICANN’s Registrar Standards Complaint Form is a new offering, it serves as another (hopefully effective) mechanism to deter cybersquatting by a privacy-protected registrant. At Traverse Legal, our goal is to explore all plausible avenues of cybersquatting prevention before considering other (more expensive) options such as the Uniform Rapid Suspension (“URS”); UDRP; and/or cybersquatting litigation. If ICANN’s newest complaint form provides another possible way for us to enforce our client’s intellectual property rights online, we welcome the additional tool in our arsenal.