If you're a brand owner and someone is squatting a domain with your brand name in it, possibly even linking to your competitors, you need to stop that yesterday.
The Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP) process can get your domain from a cybersquatter in about 75 days. It is a legal proceeding that is initiated in an international tribunal, most commonly the WIPO tribunal in Geneva, Switzerland.
Owning a trademark will significantly help your success in a UDPR proceeding (model complaint and filing guidelines), although it's not necessary. If you've owned a trademark registration, or significantly used, your brand since prior to the offending domain name creation date, you'll have a strong case. You should definitely consult a lawyer with experience in UDRP actions, and here are 3 reasons why that process is preferred over traditional litigation:
1) The UDRP is far speedier than litigation.
The typical timeline for a UDRP case, from filing of a complaint to the transfer of the offending domain name is approximately 75 days. Compared to the uncertain timelines with federal litigation, which can take years to resolve, the UDRP is a speedy process. Only one document needs to be submitted by the Complainant, and one response filed by the Respondent. Once a complaint has been filed, a Respondent has 20 days to respond, and WIPO will assign a Panelist (or a panel of 3 if you choose) within 5 days after a response has been made. Panelists are required to issue a decision to the relevant domain name registrar within 14 days of being assigned, and then the registrar is required to carry out the domain transfer within 10 days, although in my experience this can take a few weeks.
2) UDRP Panelists understand domain name issues well.
You can have confidence that your domain name rights are being assessed by experts in the field, as opposed to federal judges with caseloads containing a small fraction of trademark cases, and even fewer domain name cases. Expert Panelists minimize the risk of faulty decisions which may lead to more expensive appeals made by a party who is wronged by a decision. Additionally, Panelists are drawn from all over the world, and may likely have more expertise on the subtle international issues in cybersquatting cases.
3) The UDRP is cost-efficient.
The majority of UDRP cases are administered by WIPO in Geneva, Switzerland, where cases involving up to 5 domain names and heard by a single Panelist costs $1500 USD, and a panel of 3 costs $4000.00 USD in fees. Fees are payable by the Complainant. Lawyer’s fees typically range from $3500.00 to 6000.00 USD
. Thus, Complainants could have a decision for under $10,000.00 USD, where federal litigators will easily ask for a $10,000.00 up front retainer just to begin federal litigation; litigation which tends to have an uncertain path and future costs.