A domain name is your address on the web, which can make it vitally important. So, what do you do when someone tries to move onto your yard?
If you work on the web at all, you know that domain names can be very similar. This raises the question of when one domain crosses the line and infringes on another. The issue is often brought up with larger commercial sites when others register similar domains.
A claim for domain name infringement is governed by the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy issued by ICANN. As a domain owner, you might be surprised to learn you have consented to this. It occurred when you purchased your domain, although you probably didn't read the terms and conditions associated with your purchase.
To prove your domain is being infringed upon, you have to prove certain things. They are as follows:
1. You must prove the domain name in dispute is identical or confusingly similar to a trade or service mark you have registered. In simple terms, this means you must show the other guy is using a domain that most people would associated with your business. If I have a trademark for ZipIt and someone is using a NET suffix of this, it is confusing for the public.
2. You must also prove the owner of the other domain has no rights or legitimate interests in the domain.
3. Finally, you must prove domain name is registered by the other party and being used in bad faith. Indications of bad faith include the other party tried to sell it to you or one of your competitors for more than they paid for it, the other party has done this repeatedly to other companies, the other party registered the domain in an attempt to intentionally steal your clients.
If you decide to pursue an infringement action, it is always handled as a binding arbitration. This essentially means the dispute is heard by a panel of arbitrators and their decision is binding upon you and the other party. The advantage of this is it tends to be less expensive than going to court, but your damages are limited to an act instead of money. Specifically, the panel can only issue instructions for the offending domain to be canceled, modified or left alone. The panel cannot award any monetary damages.
At the end of the day, using the infringement arbitration provisions of the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy provided by ICANN is a good choice if you just want to terminate a domain you feel is infringing upon yours. The key to the dispute, however, is the fact you need to have a trademark or service mark first in most cases.