Nominet defies WIPO over domain disputes

UK Domain name registry plans to go it alone over cyber squatting battles

Nominet, the registry for UK Internet names, is considering whether to defy the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) on methods for settle disputes over domain names.

The UK registry claims that WIPO's methods are not far reaching enough or sufficiently flexible for settling accusations of cyber squatting. It may instead abide by its own guidelines.

At a conference in Geneva last week WIPO issued a draft proposing that all country domain names registers adopt a code of practice based on its own rules for settling alleged cases of cyber squatting, known as the Uniform Dispute Resolution Policy (UDPS).

A consultation on the draft code, Best Practices for the Prevention and Resolution of Intellectual Property Disputes, will end on 30 April. The code covers ways to initiate legal action and mediate disputes.

But Nominet believes the draft is not flexible enough. "While we welcome moves to discourage cyber squatting wherever it occurs, we believe our dispute resolution procedures already exceed what WIPO is recommending," said Nominet's managing director, Dr Willie Black.

Black said the UDPS does not allow registrars enough room to mediate cases and arrange informal settlements without initiating a legal battle. He said that a third of all cases dealt with by Nominet are settled in this way. Earlier in the year Nominet began a consultation on ways to settle UK disputes in order to speed up settlements. A company spokeswoman said that Nominet will base its practises on this consultation, which runs until March.

"Under WIPO's current Uniform Dispute Resolution Policy there is no scope for mediation, yet we have found it to be very successful," said Black

Nominet dealt with its first domain name dispute in 1997 and has managed over 1,200 cases since then.

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