S'pore: Cheaper way to settle Net name disputes

A dispute over an existing .sg domain name could result in expensive litigation fees and long-standing court procedures. However, such disputes could soon be settled out of court for as little as S$2,750 in 30 days, thanks to an upcoming .sg domain dispute resolution framework.

SINGAPORE--A dispute over an existing .sg domain name--whether it has infringed on a service mark or trademark, or has been cybersquatted upon--could result in expensive litigation fees and long-standing court procedures.

Infringement of a service mark or trademark occurs when a person or company other than IBM Corp, for instance, uses the www.ibm.com.sg domain. In the case of cybersquatting, someone would have registered or been using the www.ibm.com.sg domain in bad faith (in order to profit from it or to defame the original trademark holder).

However, such disputes could soon be settled out of court for as little as S$2,750 in 30 days, thanks to an upcoming .sg domain dispute resolution framework.

The proposed framework was developed by local registry Singapore Network Information Centre Pte Ltd (SGNIC) together with legal organizations such as the Singapore International Arbitration Centre, the Singapore Institute of Arbitrators and the Singapore Mediation Centre.

The suggested procedures aim to resolve disputes in an "efficient and cost-effective way", said SGNIC in a statement today.

Last September, local Web site operator Hardware Zone sued computer shop Video-Pro in Sim Lim Square for copyright infringement in what was believed to be the first domain name dispute in court here.

Hardware Zone accused Video-Pro of trying to pass itself off as the claimant's Web site as Video-Pro had been using the hardwarezone.com.sg domain. However, the suit was settled with the computer shop agreeing to give up the address and pay S$10,000 in damages to Hardware Zone.

SGNIC noted that there were "a few" other disputes over .sg domains here, but it declined to elaborate when contacted.

"With the rapid increase in Internet usage and the recent growth of e-commerce, conflicts and disputes over domain names and trademarks are inevitable," the registry added.

SGNIC has also issued an industry consultation paper today entitled Proposed Framework for Resolving Disputes over Internet Domain Names Registered under .sg on its Web site to seek industry comments on the suggested framework.

All comments should be submitted in writing to the registry before noon on August 17, 2001. Appropriate modifications to the proposed framework will be made based on industry feedback, it noted.

The final policy is expected to be released by year end.

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