What to Do When Your Domain Name Gets Ripped Off

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:: By Rizza Laplana, Get Devs ::


There are countless budding companies worldwide that became victims of a vicious digital marketing “strategy.”

Some individuals, groups and even established companies would blatantly copy a domain name and attach it to a different top level domain (.com, .net, .co, etc.) for malicious purpose. They are commonly known as “cyber squatters.” There are numerous reasons behind this act and one those is taking advantage of brand awareness which is the result of the original company’s existing digital marketing campaigns. No one is safe from this type of scam and it’s an event that any company with digital presence should prepare for.

Assuming that all due diligence is exercised to avoid acquiring an existing website domain name, the following are the best course of action to take: 

File a URS Complaint

Uniform Rapid Suspension System or URS was introduced by ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) in 2013 and described as a faster and cheaper way to help domain rights holders resolve their dispute against domain registrants. Among other rulings, this procedure may impose suspension on domains in question. As of December 2015, there are three accredited URS providers assigned by ICANN: 

MFSD 

ADNDRC (The Asian Domain Name Dispute Resolution Centre) 

Forum (National Arbitration Forum)

The associated fees in filing complaint varies depending on each provider. The provider where the complaint was filed reviews the case based on UDRP conditions (enumerated in the next section: File UDRP). 

File a UDRP Complaint 

Uniform Domain-Name-Dispute Resolution Policy or UDRP is a dispute resolution process developed in 1998 by WIPO (United Nations World Intellectual Property Organization) and implemented under the supervision of ICANN.  In the UDRP process, the complainant must present these three conditions to move forward to with the proceedings:

An identical domain name or confusingly similar trademark in which the complainant has rights

The other party who registered the identical domain does not have any legitimate interest or rights to the said domain

The identical domain is being used in bad faith

The proceeding will be administered by ICANN assigned providers where a complaint is filed depending on the properties of the domain name. Here’s a list of the ICANN accredited providers and the corresponding UDRP case types that they oversee:

WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization) – old generic Top Level Domains (gTLDs such as .com, net, etc.), new gTLDs and some country code Top Level Domains (ccTLDs). 

ADNDRC (The Asian Domain Name Dispute Resolution Centre) – all generic Top Level Domains, new generic Top Level Domain and country code Top Level Domain. 

Forum (National Arbitration Forum) – All ccTLD disputes.

ADR (Czech Arbitration Court, Arbitration Center for Internet Dispute) – all generic Top Level Domains and domains with .eu, .co.nl, .co.no and. sx. 

ACDR (The Arab Center for Dispute Resolution) 

Each of the providers adhere to ICANN’s UDRP rules, however, each one also has its own supplemental rules. These providers also have varying fees and it usually starts at $1,000 USD depending on the provider. It’s best to fully understand the designated provider’s supplemental rules to make sure it’s acceptable for the complainant before filing the complaint. Also, in the event that the complainant or the registrar wants to appeal the decision, a court ruling from the domain’s location will supersede the UDRP decision.  

File a Lawsuit

Although a lawsuit can be more expensive, it may be more suitable especially if the complainant and registrar resides in the same country. Since a URS and UDRP resolution can be overridden by a court ruling, it may be more reassuring for some to directly file a lawsuit. It always depends on the complainant’s preference and it may be best to carefully asses all available options first. 

Going through this kind of situation can be stressful, especially if it is unexpected. Thankfully, there are available courses of action to consider and with the internet community’s help, this situation could be much easier to deal with in the future. 


Rizza Laplana is a manager at Get Devs, which finds and hires the right developers for companies.

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