Domain Name Disputes in cyberspace: An analysis of the issues involved
Written By: Dhimaan Dutta
What is cyberspace?
The term “cyberspace” refers to the virtual computer world, and more particularly, an electronic medium for facilitating online communication. In most cases, cyberspace consists of a vast computer network made up of numerous worldwide computer subnetworks that use the TCP/IP protocol to facilitate communication and data exchange. The essential aspect of cyberspace is that it provides an interactive and virtual environment for a wide variety of users. Any system with a large user base, or simply a well-designed interface, might be considered “cyberspace” in the IT vocabulary. Users can share information, connect, exchange ideas, play games, participate in debates or social forums, do business, and produce intuitive media in cyberspace, among other things.
Let us now get to know about “Domain Name’ What is Domain Name?
If you are not familiar with this term, then you may have heard that you need a domain to make a website. The domain name of your website is the address that users put into the URL bar of their browser to view it.
To put it another way, if your website were home, your domain name would be the address.
A more thorough explanation is as follows:
The Internet is a massive network of computers linked together by a worldwide network of cables. This network’s computers can interact with one another.
A domain, also known as a domain name, is the space between the @ in your email address and the.com,.org,.net, and other extensions. (Use email@example.com as an example.) Customers may use domains to find and remember where your company is on the internet. A subdomain is a part of your domain—for example, sales.domain.com or marketing.domain.com—that may be utilized to improve email marketing deliverability.
Domain Name Dispute
A Domain Name Dispute can occur when an individual uses a domain name in an infringing, conflicting, or unlawful manner. The Complainant must meet the requirements set out in the different dispute resolution policies in order to effectively file a Domain Name Dispute. Because the internet has no borders or limits, and most businesses have a global presence, a Domain Name Infringement might occur in a nation other than where it is registered. In the event of a trans-border infringement, the individual can file a complaint with the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP), which is a global standard and uniform policy that differs from country to jurisdiction. In general, there are three ways that a Domain Name might be infringed:
- Domain Name Parking, or when an individual registers a Domain Name with no intention of using it for any lawful business or non-commercial purposes, is an example of cyber-squatting. Registrants frequently do this in order to sell the domain name to its authorised user for excessive prices.
- When a person clicks on a text hyperlink that leads them to a separate website, this is referred to as linking and framing.This website is designed to seem like a well-known firm and is primarily intended to fool customers into thinking that their domain name is associated with profitable businesses with a strong internet presence.
- When words and tags are used to trick search engines into displaying the infringing website, this is known as meta tagging. They function similarly to Hashtags, which are used to improve exposure on social networking platforms.
The mode of Settlement
Clearly, the complainants are free to pick their preferred method of dispute settlement.
- ICANN Dispute Resolution Policy– Because a Domain Name is typically accessible independent of the geographical location of the consumers, the internet allows for online access without geographical limits. This benefits universal accessibility and connection, as well as granting the Domain Name global exclusivity. The ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) is a global internet administration that, with the introduction of the UDRP (Uniform Name Dispute Resolution Policy), forms the best possible redressal system for international Domain Name Disputes because it is cost-effective and efficient.
- The Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP) establishes a legal framework for resolving disputes between a Domain Name Registrant and a third party in the event of abusive registration in the Generic Top Level Domains. The UDRP Rules were approved by ICANN, and they outline the processes and other criteria for each step of the dispute resolution and administrative process. The ICANN-accredited service providers handle the dispute resolution process. The World Intellectual Property Organization’s (WIPO) Arbitration and Mediation Centre is one such provider of dispute resolution services. In the case of Domain Name Disputes, this Policy allows for arbitration rather than litigation.
Decisions of the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Centre on Domain Names – Under the UDRP, the World Intellectual Property Organization is the primary supplier of Domain Name Dispute Resolution services. WIPO provides qualified panelists, thorough and timely administrative procedures, and overall unbiased and trustworthy dispute settlement. In most cases, a Domain Name complaint filed with WIPO is resolved for a low price, within two months, and using online procedures.
- INDRP (Indian Dispute Resolution Policy) – The INDRP (Indian Dispute Resolution Policy) is a policy that governs how The National Internet Exchange of India (NIXI) has accepted the INDRP, which is integrated into the Registry Accreditation Agreement by reference (RAA). It establishes the rules and circumstances that apply to any dispute involving domain names ending in.IN or.Bharat. The.IN Registry operates as an autonomous organisation within NIXI, with the primary duty for maintaining and guaranteeing the.IN Country Code Top-Level Domain’s operational stability, dependability, and security. INDRP can be filed by anyone who believes the registered domain name infringes on his or her legitimate rights or interests because the Registrant’s domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a name, trademark, or service mark in which he or she has rights. The Registrant has no rights or legitimate interests in the domain name or the Registrant’s domain name has been registered by someone else.
- Judicial Precedence –In India, there have been several incidents of cybersquatting in recent years. Domain name disputes and cybersquatting are always dealt with by the courts. In India, the Bombay High Court issued one of the first cybersquatting decisions in the matter of Rediff Communication v. Cyberbooth. In this case, the court determined that the value and significance of a domain name is comparable to that of a company’s business asset. The defendant in this case had registered the domain name radiff.com, which was confusingly similar to rediff.com. The Court held that internet domain names are important and may be a valuable corporate asset, and that such a domain name is more than an Internet address and is entitled to the same level of protection as a trademark.The plaintiff won the case, and the court ruled in her favour. The Delhi High Court has ordered a cyber-squatter to stop using, selling, or commercially exploiting the domain name, and also said that India Today Group chairman Aroon Purie had prima facie ownership of aroonpurie.com. The court has issued an interim injunction prohibiting a cyber-squatter from using, selling, or financially exploiting the domain name. One Kautilya Krishan Pandey registered and claimed the domain name aroonpurie.com. He had also placed up for sale a photograph of Mr Aroon Purie on the front page of the abovementioned domain name. Pandey also made a disputed offer to sell Aroon Purie the domain aronpurie.com for a premium price, after which he promised the India Today Group that he would transfer the domain back to Mr Purie, but he did not. Mr Purie’s attorney, Dr Puneet Jain, asked for a permanent injunction against the defendants for cybersquatting and misusing the domain name aroonpurie.com.
India’s Legal Situation on Domain Name Law
There is no official law in India that prohibits cybersquatting or regulates domain name disputes. However, the courts have ruled on many cases involving contested domain names that result in a trademark infringement or passing off. Because of the issues that Indian jurisdictions have encountered and the different jurisdictions that have looked into them, there is a pressing need in India to develop a new law that specifically addresses cybersquatting and domain name disputes.
Due to the lack of applicable cyber legislation in India, matters are determined under trademark laws by courts and regulators interpreting the principle of passing off with reference to domain names. The pace of innovation of gTLDs and ccTLDs will assist consumers not only simplify the material accessible on the Internet but also access data more quickly and efficiently. This joy is tempered by the belief that further expansion will result in an increase in the number of incidents of cybersquatting, causing not just bewilderment but also economic hardship. As e-commerce progresses, there is a greater need for stronger and more effective ways of combating this threat. UDRP and INDRP policies may be feasible concepts right now, but a rogue cybersquatter’s resourcefulness should not be underestimated. As a result, the judiciary must take the initiative to strike a balance between commercial interests and the right to free expression. Despite its flaws, some of which are more serious than others, such as inconsistent and sometimes uninformed decisions, vague terminology, a significant market gap among providers suggesting service inequalities, and insufficient data to review the justice of decisions or processes, the UDRP has done an admirable job.