/ 27 March 2008

UN agency ousts record number of cybersquatters

The World Intellectual Property Organisation (Wipo) ousted a record number of ”cybersquatters” from websites with domain names referring to trademarked companies, foundations and celebrities in 2007.

Wipo, a United Nations agency based in Geneva, received 2 156 complaints alleging ”abusive registration of trademarks on the internet” last year, up 18% from 2006 and 48% more than the filings lodged in 2005.

”These increases confirm that ‘cybersquatting’ remains a significant issue for rights holders,” Francis Gurry, Wipo’s deputy director-general said on Thursday.

Most complaints came from the pharmaceutical, banking, telecommunications, retail and entertainment sectors.

Drugmakers were the top filers ”due to numerous permutations of protected names registered for websites offering or linking to online sales of medications and drugs”, Wipo said.

Last year’s domain name disputes involved a wide range of products, events and people — including Airbus’s A380 jet, the 2010 Fifa World Cup, Harvard Business School, Lance Armstrong’s Livestrong foundation, talk-show host Oprah Winfrey, and television show The Simpsons.

A quarter of cases were settled without a Wipo panel decision. Of the remainder, in 85% of cases the panels transferred the disputed domain names to the complainant, and in 15% the panel ordered no change of the site registration.

Most domain name complainants came from the United States, France and Britain, while respondents were mainly based in the United States, Britain and China, Wipo said. – Reuters