August 21, 2019
Written by Sophie Hey, Policy Advisor at Valideus
For many brand owners, protecting IP in the domain name system under a Chinese registration has been a thankless task. Whilst finding abusive .CN domains is regrettably all too easy, identifying that elusive registrant has been hard work. Many local registrars are far from responsive and rarely transparent, and the remedies range from complex and expensive, to ineffective and expensive.
This is starting to change, with WIPO announcing that as of 1 August 2019, they will provide domain name dispute resolution services for .CN and .中国 (China) country code Top-Level Domains (ccTLD). This follows the conclusion of a memorandum of understanding signed between WIPO Director General Francis Gurry and Cyberspace Administration of China Minister Zhuang Rongwen in July 2019. This makes WIPO the only entity not based in China to provide domain name dispute resolution services for .CN and .中国 (China) country code Top-Level Domains (ccTLD).
Like most ccTLDs, .CN and .中国 have a different domain name resolution policy from the Uniform Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP). WIPO sets out the key differences between the UDRP and the policy for .CN and .中国 here. The key parameters of the policy for .CN and .中国 in comparison to the UDRP are as follows.
Limited to .CN and .中国 domains registered for less than three years
The policy only applies to .CN and .中国 names that have been registered for less than 3 years. Previously, the domain name dispute resolution policy for .CN and .中国 names applied for names registered in either space for 2 years or less. However, this was revised in June 2019 to align with the limitation on civil action time period of 3 years in Chinese law. By comparison, the UDRP does not have a time limit on domain name registration periods.
Names Included in Policy
The policy applies to .CN and .中国 domain names that are identical or confusingly similar to any name in which the complainant has civil rights or interests. The UDRP is narrower in scope and only applies to trademark rights.
Bad Faith Requirements
The complainant in disputes concerning .CN and .中国 names only needs to prove either the registration of or use of the disputed domain name is in bad faith. The UDRP is more stringent in that it requires complainants to establish both the registration of and use of the domain is in bad faith.
Eighteen panellists for .CN and .中国 domain name disputes have been appointed by WIPO, the majority of whom are based in Hong Kong or China. Decisions on disputes for .CN and .中国 conducted through WIPO will be available on the WIPO website.
A list of panellists for .CN and .中国 domain name disputes conducted through WIPO is available here.
“WIPO’s Arbitration and Mediation Center is the world’s leading provider of dispute resolution services for domain names and we are pleased to be contributing expertise gained over 20 years of services to the registry for the .CN and .中国 domains,” said WIPO Director General Francis Gurry. He added “Authenticity on the Internet is critical to ensuring the safety and expansion of e-commerce and restoring domain names to legitimate trademark and other rights owners contributes to curbing consumer deception – in a market as large as China this assumes even greater significance.”
Brian Beckham, Head of WIPO’s Internet Dispute Resolution Section said, “We believe this will be a very valuable service for brand owners. For a long time tackling abusive domain registration under .CN has been a challenge. This reflects the commitment of the Chinese government to rights protection”
For further questions and advice our expert dispute team in our Edinburgh office led by Andrew Lothian are here to help.