wipo final report


Final Report

of the

WIPO Internet Domain Name Process


April 30, 1999
The Final Report will also shortly be made available in hard-cover as official WIPO Publication No. 92-805-0779-6.



The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) is an organization founded through a treaty by States, which has 171 States of the World as members. The member States established the Organization as the vehicle for promoting the protection, dissemination and use of intellectual property throughout the world for economic, cultural and social development.

The Organization provides services both to its Member States and to the individuals and enterprises that are constituent of those States.

The services provided by WIPO to its member States include the provision of a forum for the development and implementation of intellectual property policies internationally through treaties and other policy instruments.

The services provided to the private sector by WIPO include the administration of systems that make it possible to obtain protection for patents, trademarks, industrial designs and geographical indications in multiple countries through a single international procedure.

The operations of WIPO are financed as to 88 per cent by fees generated by the Organization for the services it renders to the private sector, and as to the remaining 12 per cent by contributions made by the Member States. 

World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) 34, chemin des Colombettes P.O. Box 18 1211 Geneva 20 Switzerland * * * *  For information concerning the WIPO Internet Domain Name Process: Office of Legal and Organization Affairs Telephone: (41 22) 338 91 64 Fax: (41 22) 733 31 68 Internet: http://wipo2.wipo.int e-mail: ecommerce@wipo.int


Executive Summary

Paragraph Numbers

1. The Internet, Domain Names and the WIPO Process

The Internet 
The Domain Name System 
The Transmutation of Domain Names 
Intellectual Property 
The Process for the Reorganization of the Management of the 
     Domain Name System 
The Interface Between the Domain Name System and Intellectual
     Property: The WIPO Process 
The Mechanics of the WIPO Process 
Guiding Principles in the Formulation of Recommendations
     in the WIPO Process 
The Scope of the WIPO Recommendations: Their Relevance
    to ccTLDs 
The Submission of the WIPO Report 

1 to 44 1 to 3 4 to 9 10 11 to 13 14 to 21 22 to 25 26 to 31 32 to 37 38 to 43 44

2. Avoiding Disjunction Between Cyberspace and the Rest of the World: Practices Designed to Minimize Conflicts Arising out of Domain Name Registrations

Best Practices for Registration Authorities  
Formal Domain Name Registration Agreement  
Contact Details of Domain Name Holders  
The Collection of Contact Details  
Scope of Contact Details to be Provided  
The Availability of Contact Details  
The Possibility of a Non-Commercial Use-Restricted Domain 
     Where Anonymity may be Permitted  
Other Safeguards Against Misuse of Published  
     Contact Details  
Requirement of Use  
Payment of Registration  
Re-Registration Fees  
Waiting Periods  
Searches Prior to Registration  
Representations in the Domain Name Registration 
Submission to Jurisdiction and to Alternative Dispute  
     Resolution Procedures  
Measures to Deal with Inaccurate and Unreliable Information  
Verification of Contact Details by the Registrar  
Requirement that Inaccurate and Unreliable Contact Details 
     Constitute a Material Breach of the Domain Name 
     Registration Agreement  
Procedure for Cancellation of Registrations where Contact 
     Cannot be Established  
The Problem of Uniqueness: Technical Measures for Co-Existence 
     of Similar Names 
45 to 128 54 to 123 54 to 57 58 to 63 64 to 66 67 to 73 74 to 82 83 to 86 87 to 90 91 to 94 95 to 96 97 to 98 99 to 102 103 to 105 106 to 109 110 to 111 112 to 123 113 to 116 117 to 119 120 to 123 124 to 128

3. Resolving Conflicts in a Multijurisdictional World with a Global Medium: Uniform Dispute-Resolution Procedures

Court Litigation
Guiding Principles for the Design of the Administrative
      Dispute-Resolution Policy 
Mandatory Administrative Procedure for Cancellation
Mandatory Administrative Procedure for Cancellation
     of Abusive Registrations 
Mandatory Nature of the Procedure 
The Scope of the Administrative Procedure 
The Definition of Abusive Registration ("Cybersquatting") 
Implementation of the Procedure 
Procedural Rules 
Remedies Available Under the Procedure 
Expedited Procedure for Suspension of a Domain Name 
Consolidation of Different Claims 
Relationship with National Courts 
Time Limitation for Bringing Claims 
Length of Proceedings 
Appointment of Decision-Maker 
The Use of On-Line Facilities to Conduct the Procedure 
Enforcement and Publication of Determinations 
Dispute-Resolution Service Providers 
The Availability of Voluntary Arbitration 
The Role of Mediation 

129 to 244 137 to 147 148 to 151 152 to 157 157 to 162 163 to 169 170 to 177 178 to 179 180 to 181 182 to 188 189 190 to 193 194 to 196 197 to 199 200 to 203 204 to 209 210 to 214 215 to 220 221 223 to 227 228 229 to 239 240 to 244

4. The Problem of Notoriety: Famous and Well-Known Marks

International Protection of Famous and Well-Known Marks
The Implementation of Protection for Famous and
     Well-known Marks in Cyberspace 
Mechanism for Exclusion of Famous and
      Well-known Marks in Open gTLDS 
Brief Description of the Mechanism for Exclusion 
Implementation of the Mechanism 
Procedural Consideration 
Relationship of Determinations to the Status of Marks
     Outside Cyberspace 
Criteria for Making Determinations 
Evidentiary Presumption Resulting from an Exclusion 
Other Forms of Exclusions 

245 to 303 252 to 256 257 to 262 263 to 275 276 277 to 278 279 to 280 281 to 282 283 to 287 288 to 291 292 to 293

5. New Generic Top-Level Domains: Some Considerations from the Perspective of Intellectual Property

The Diversity of Views and the Diversity of Perspectives 
Illustrations of Problems Encountered by Holders of
     Intellectual Property Rights in Existing gTLDs 
Lack of Visibility of the Full Extent of Problems 
Focus on Clear Cases of Abuse 
Predatory and Parasitical Practices 
Need for Improvement in Registration Practices 
Resort to Defensive Practices 
International Scope of Problems 
Dissatisfaction with Current gTLD Dispute-Resolution
Registration Practices and Procedures in Country Code
     Top-Level Domains 
Conclusions, Suggestions and Reflections 
The Impact of New Navigational Measures 

304 to 352 307 to 311 312 to339 313 to 314 315 to 317 318 to 320 321 to 322 323 to 327 328 329 to 333 334 to 339 340 to 343 344 to 346 347 to 352

* * * * * * *


I. Panel of Experts Appointed by WIPO

II. List of Governments, Organizations and Persons Submitting Formal Comments

III. Statistical Information Concerning Participation in the WIPO Process

IV. Policy on Dispute Resolution for Abusive Domain Name Registrations

V. Rules for Administrative Procedure Concerning Abusive Domain Names Registrations

VI. Policy for Domain Name Exclusions

VII. Rules for Panel Procedure Concerning Domain Name Exclusions

VIII. Application of Recommendations to ccTLDs

IX. Report on ccTLD Questionnaire and Responses

X. List of States Party to the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property

XI. List of States Party to the World Trade Organization (WTO) and Bound by the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS Agreement)







Domain names are the human-friendly form of Internet addresses. While designed to serve the function of enabling users to locate computers in an easy manner, domain names have acquired a further significance as business identifiers and, as such, have come into conflict with the system of business identifiers that existed before the arrival of the Internet and that are protected by intellectual property rights.

The tension between domain names, on the one hand, and intellectual property rights, on the other hand, have led to numerous problems that raise challenging policy questions. These policy questions have new dimensions that are a consequence of the intersection of a global, multipurpose medium, the Internet, with systems designed for the physical, territorial world.

On the proposal of the Government of the United States of America, and with the approval of its Member States, WIPO has since July 1998 undertaken an extensive international process of consultations ("the WIPO Process"). The purpose of the WIPO Process was to make recommendations to the corporation established to manage the domain name system, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), on certain questions arising out of the interface between domain names and intellectual property rights. Seventeen consultation meetings were held in 15 different cities throughout the world in the course of the WIPO Process, and written submissions were received from 266 governments, intergovernmental organizations, professional associations, corporation and individuals.

An Interim Report containing draft recommendations was issued in December 1998 as part of the WIPO Process. The present document constitutes the Final Report. It is being submitted to ICANN and to the Member States of WIPO. The main recommendations in the Final Report are summarized below.


Best Practices for Registration Authorities

(i) The adoption of a number of improved, standard practices for registrars with authority to register domain names in the generic top-level domains (gTLDs) will reduce the tension that exists between domain names and intellectual property rights.

(ii) In particular, the collection and availability of accurate and reliable contact details of domain name holders is an essential tool for facilitating the protection of intellectual property rights on a borderless and otherwise anonymous medium. Such contact details provide the principal means by which intellectual property owners can go about the process of enforcing their rights.

(iii) Where it is shown that contact details are inaccurate and unreliable and that contact cannot be established with a domain name holder through them, a third party should have the right to serve a notification to this effect on the responsible registrar. Upon independent verification of the impossibility of establishing contact, the registrar should be required to cancel the domain name registration.

(iv) In the WIPO Interim Report, it was suggested that consideration be given to the introduction of a non-commercial, use-restricted domain, where the contact details of domain name holders would not be publicly available, as a means of allaying the concerns of those who consider that the public availability of contact details may lead to intrusions of privacy. In the Final Report, it is concluded that this idea requires further consideration, elaboration and consultation in a separate process before any recommendation can made on it.


Administrative Procedure Concerning Abusive Domain Name Registrations

(v) ICANN should adopt a dispute-resolution policy under which an administrative dispute-resolution procedure is made available for domain name disputes in all gTLDs. In the Interim Report, it was recommended that domain name applicants should be required to submit to the procedure in respect of any intellectual property dispute arising out of a domain name registration. The Final Report recommends that the scope of the administrative procedure be limited to cases of bad faith, abusive registration of domain names that violate trademark rights ("cybersquatting," in popular terminology). Domain name holders would thus be required to submit to the administrative procedure only in respect of allegations that they are involved in cybersquatting, which was universally condemned throughout the WIPO Process as an indefensible activity that should be suppressed.

(vi) The administrative procedure would be quick, efficient, cost-effective and conducted to a large extent on-line. Determinations under it would be limited to orders for the cancellation or transfer of domain name registrations and the allocation of the costs of the procedure (not including attorneys’ fees) against the losing party. Determinations would be enforced by registration authorities under the dispute-resolution policy.


Exclusions for Famous and Well-known Marks

(vii) Famous and well-known marks have been the special target of predatory and parasitical practices on the part of a small, but active, minority of domain name registrants. A mechanism should be introduced whereby the owner of a famous or well-known mark can obtain an exclusion in some or all gTLDs for the name of the mark where the mark is famous or well-known on a widespread geographical basis and across different classes of goods or services. The effect of the exclusion would be to prohibit any person other than the owner of the famous or well-known mark from registering the mark as a domain name.

(viii) The exclusion mechanism gives expression in cyberspace to the special protection that is established for famous and well-known marks in the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property and the TRIPS Agreement.

(ix) Since an exclusion would cover only the exact name of the famous or well-known mark, and since experience shows that cybersquatters typically register many close variations of famous or well-known marks, an exclusion, once granted, should give rise to an evidentiary presumption in the administrative procedure. The effect of the evidentiary presumption would to place the burden of proving justification for the use of a domain name on the domain name holder where the domain name is identical or misleadingly similar to the famous or well-known mark and the domain name is being used in a way that is likely to damage the interests of the owner of the mark.


New gTLDs

(x) The evidence shows that the experience of the last five years in gTLDs has led to numerous instances of abusive domain name registrations and, consequently, to consumer confusion and an undermining of public trust in the Internet. It has also led to the necessity for intellectual property owners to invest substantial human and financial resources in defending their interests. This arguably wasteful diversion of economic resources can be averted by the adoption of the improved registration practices, administrative dispute-resolution procedure and exclusion mechanism recommended in the Final Report of the WIPO Process.

(xi) In view of past experience, intellectual property owners are very apprehensive about the introduction of new gTLDs and the possible repetition in the new gTLDs of that experience.

(xii) Many issues other than intellectual property protection are involved in the formulation of a policy on the introduction of new gTLDs. Insofar as intellectual property is concerned, it is believed that the introduction of new gTLDs may be envisaged on the condition that the recommendations of the WIPO Final Report with respect to improved registration practices, dispute resolution and an exclusion mechanism for famous and well-known marks are adopted, and on the further condition that any new gTLDs are introduced in a slow and controlled manner that allows for experience with the new gTLDs to be monitored and evaluated.


First Steps and Outstanding Issues

The recommendations of the Final Report of the WIPO Process have been directed at the most egregious problems between intellectual property and domain names and at obtaining effective solutions to those problems. Other issues remain outstanding and require further reflection and consultation. Amongst these other issues are:

(a) as signaled above, the exploration of the feasibility of introducing a non-commercial, use-restricted domain where contact details of domain name holders might not be readily available publicly;

(b) the problem of bad faith, abusive domain name registrations that violate intellectual property rights other than trademarks or service marks, for example, geographical indications and personality rights;

(c) the problem of bad faith, abusive domain name registrations of the names and acronyms of international intergovernmental organizations that are protected against use and registration as trademarks by the Paris Convention; and

(d) the problem of bad faith, abusive domain name registrations of International Nonproprietary Names selected by the World Health Organization for the identification of specific pharmaceutical substances under single, globally available names in order to protect the safety of patients.