WIPO Report 2012: Cybersquatting reach record levels
World Intellectual Property Organization has today released a report that shows cases of cybersquatting they handled had jumped five percent to reach a record 2,884 in 2012. Judging by the cases, the areas where cybersquatting is most prevalent are retail, fashion and banking and finance industries. The simple explanation given by the organization is the increased use of the Internet, which in turn increases the potential infringers. For those who don’t know, Cybersquatting refers to the practice of registering, trafficking in, or using an Internet domain name with the intention of profiting from the goodwill of a trademark belonging to someone else. Since the year 2000, WIPO has provided an arbitration service that enables complainants who dispute the right to domain names to avoid potentially costly litigation, which can also be complicated when the parties reside in different countries. Legally, the WIPO’s arbitrators are empowered to award complainants a domain name if they find that the accused party has registered it abusively.
The organization said they are proud of the fact that this is a very International procedure because it caters for the international character of the Internet. In individual country rankings, the United States topped the table for both complainants, with 798 cases, and accused parties, with 784 followed by People’s Republic of China where the Cybersquatters in the country targeted some 500 cases. Majority of the rest of the complainants are based in Europe most notably in Britain, France, Germany, Denmark and Switzerland. WIPO revealed that they heard just nine cases from Chinese complainants last year. The report indicated that the geography of cyber disputes is shifting. Traditionally, the United States has been and continues to be the largest location of complainants and also the largest location of respondent parties according to WIPO statistics. However, there is an evolution there due to the use of the Internet which relatively speaking is probably moving east to Asia, China, Africa, Southeast Asia and other emerging economies. They are all becoming bigger players on the Internet, including in domain name registrations according to the organization. Asian and African countries may start featuring increasingly on the complainant side.