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Domain Names

A domain name is the Internet address for a user. Every computer on the Internet has a unique address - like a telephone number - that is a rather complicated string of numbers. This is called its "IP address". The DNS is a mnemonic devise that makes remembering IP addresses easier. Instead of 123.2.12.123, you type www.OttEsq.com.

Internet Corporation For Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is the global, non-profit, private sector coordinating body acting in the public interest. ICANN ensures that the DNS continues to function effectively by overseeing the distribution of unique numeric IP addresses and domain names. ICANN is also responsible for overseeing the processes and systems that ensure that each domain name maps to the correct IP address.

In 1999, ICANN adopted a uniform domain name dispute resolution policy. As adopted, the policy is applicable to all registrants through their individual Registration Agreements with separate registrars. Pursuant to the policy, domain name registrants warrant that the domain name does not infringe upon or violate the rights of any third party and that the domain name was not registered for an unlawful purpose.

In the event a complaint is filed, the registrants agree to submit the complaint to an administrative proceeding to determine the status of the domain name. Registrants are required to submit to a mandatory proceeding if: 1) their domain name is identical or similar to a trademark or service mark in which the complainant has rights; 2) the registrant has no rights or legitimate interest in the domain name; 3) the domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith. The complainant must prove each of these three elements.

Evidence of bad faith will be found if it is shown that the domain name was registered: 1) for the sole purpose of selling the domain name to the trademark owner (cyber squatting); 2) to prevent the trademark owner from using the mark in its own domain name; 3) primarily to disrupt a competitor's business; or 4) to attract intentionally, for commercial gain, Internet users by creating a likelihood of confusion. Defenses include the demonstration of a bona fide offering of goods and services in connection with the domain name, by demonstrating that they are known by the domain name regardless of trademark ownership, or that the use of the domain name is legitimate and fair. The remedy is the transfer of the domain name to the complainant or cancellation of the name.

The uniform Dispute Resolution Policy is available at http://www.icann.org/udrp/udrp-policy-24oct99.htm.

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