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WIPO reveals ‘record’ number of cybersquatting cases in 2017

15 March 2018

The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) reported today (14 March 2018) that the number of cybersquatting cases brought before its Arbitration and Mediation Center reached an all time high in 2017. A total of 3,074 cases were brought under the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP) last year, with many of the disputes featuring complaints of fraud, phishing, scams and counterfeiting. 

WIPO’s UDRP is not the only domain name dispute resolution policy, but its statistics provide crucial insight into the persistent threat posed to businesses and their customers by cybersquatting and other forms of online brand infringement. The WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center has heard more than 39,000 disputes since the first UDRP case in 1999, indicating the extent of the issue facing brand owners.

Nick Wood, Managing Director of Com Laude and Valideus comments: “Cybersquatting, and related issues of fraud, phishing and counterfeiting, can impact any enterprise with an online presence. Resolution policies, such as the UDRP, provide an important tool for halting third parties seeking to abuse the domain name system. However, if organisations are to minimise the potential of infringement in the first place, they also need to implement clear and well-structured domain name registration strategies that proactively tackle the threat of cybersquatting, as well as counterfeiting, fraud, phishing and other online scams.”

Such strategies should also include regular reviews of TLDs to highlight potential risks and opportunities in light of an organisation’s sector and geographies of note. In WIPO’s 2017 findings, for example:

  • Disputes relating to the new generic Top-Level Domains (new gTLDs) accounted for more than 12% of cases, with registrations in .STORE, .SITE and .ONLINE the most-commonly disputed.
  • Cases related to country-code (ccTLDs) designations grew in 2017, accounting for around 17% of cases.
  • The industries most affected were: banking and finance (12%), fashion (11%) and internet/IT (9%), heavy industry and machinery (8%), food, beverages and restaurants (6%), biotechnology and pharmaceuticals (6%), electronics (6%), entertainment (6%) and retail (6%).
  • Most WIPO UDRP cases originated from the US (920), followed by France (462), the UK (276), Germany (222) and Switzerland (143).
  • Multinational cigarette and tobacco manufacturer Philip Morris filed the most cases (91), followed by Michelin (56), AB Electrolux (51), Andrey Ternovskiy/Chatroulette (46), Sanofi (36), Zions Bank (36), Carrefour (32), Virgin Enterprises (31), Accor (29), BASF (21) and Lego (21).

For further advice and support on developing a domain name registration strategy that can protect your business from online infringement, please see our post ‘Domain management: a best practice guide’ or contact us at info@comlaude.com.