Domain Name Lawyer & Cybersquatting Attorney
Domain name lawyers
Adlex Solicitors have been heavily involved in domain name disputes and related legal issues for more than 20 years. We have acted as lawyers for parties large and small in hundreds of domain name arbitration cases. We have represented both complainants and respondents. Visit the WIPO domain dispute search page for examples of such cases.
Domain name dispute attorney and panellist
Our principal, Adam Taylor, is a panellist with leading domain name arbitration bodies.
Since 2004 he has been a member of the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO)’s Domain Name Panel. For WIPO, Adam arbitrates domain name disputes under the Uniform Domain-Name Dispute-Resolution Policy (UDRP), considering gTLDs such as ‘.com’.
Adam has also been a panellist (‘Independent Expert’) for Nominet UK’s Dispute Resolution Service (DRS) since its launch in 2001. The DRS covers .uk domain names. To see the more than 100 .uk decisions that have been issued by Adam, visit the Nominet DRS decisions search tool, select Search, type Expert, then search for Adam Taylor.
Adam attends and presents at the annual WIPO panellists conference in Geneva, as well as Nominet Experts’ meetings in Oxford and London. This enables him to keep abreast of all the latest domain name disputes and cybersquatting issues.
If someone registers a domain name similar to a registered trade mark in your possession or to a name you have been using even if not registered, they may well have infringed your intellectual property rights or breached your copyright, even if they didn’t specifically set out to target you.
If they are deliberately trying to confuse customers or profit from your brand, this is usually taken as evidence they are operating in bad faith and that the registration was in ‘bad faith’ or ‘abusive’.
Misappropriating domain names is commonly known as cybersquatting. The motive for this practice is usually financial. The cybersquatters may hope to sell the domain name on to its rightful owners for profit, for example, or redirect stray potential customers to sites run by rivals of the trade mark owner, or by the cybersquatters themselves. They often buy up multiple variations of existing domains such as common misspellings in order to maximise financial gain.
We can advise, help you locate the registrants and respond firmly to the infringement.
The courts are certainly an option when you have a strong case for intellectual property infringement and are keen to press for damages and/or the recovery of your legal costs.
However, while legal action may sometimes be the right course, well-established arbitration procedures may be a better choice in your case. Typically, these cost less and are less time-consuming than court action.
The UDRP is administered by the Internet Corporation of Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). It provides a method for formally requesting the transfer or return of disputed domain names. The claimant must be able to demonstrate that:
- the disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to their trade mark
- the registrant has no legitimate interest in the domain name, and
- that it was both registered and has since been used in bad faith
These overlap with the requirements for legal action in court. A key difference, however, is that it is not possible to claim damages or costs under the UDRP.
If your claim is successful, the most likely outcome is that the disputed domain will be transferred to you.
Meanwhile, the DRS is administered by Nominet, based in Oxford, who administer the ‘.uk’ ccTLDs that is, remarkably, the fourth most widely used TLD in the world if you include is older variant ‘.co.uk’. (The top three are ‘.com’, ‘.net’ and ‘.de’.)
The DRS is similar to the UDRP, but there are differences. In particular, participants are offered the opportunity to engage in free, non-binding mediation in order to try and resolve the dispute between them. The mediation process is delivered by a strictly neutral third party who tries to encourage each side to reach an agreement, and, if they are successful, Nominet makes any required changes to the domain ownership and the process duly ends. No fee is payable in such circumstances.
But if mediation is unsuccessful and the DRS procedure continues, the losing party can appeal the eventual decision by Nominet’s designated ‘Expert’ – the equivalent of a UDRP panellist.
Experts take an arbitrator-like role in deciding whether or not the disputed domain name should be transferred, suspended, or remain with its current owners. Appeals are heard by a panel of three experts. By contrast, there is no right of appeal under the UDRP. To date, only a handful of DRS participants have appealed. But the option remains.
We recommend seeking legal action from an experienced domain name dispute lawyer as soon as you can. This is a complex area of law that may involve multiple countries.
Your brand and intellectual property are valuable components of your business, important intangible assets. You have worked hard to create them and imbue them with value and you should work just as hard to protect them from misappropriation by third parties.
Don’t delay. The first step is to develop a strategy that will help you regain control and encourage the infringing party cease their behaviour. Your lawyer will help you figure out what is needed to achieve that aim.
What’s our objective as domain name lawyers, when acting for trade mark owners?
Simply to recover the domain name as quickly, simply and cost-effectively as possible. We do our utmost to help clients win their cases without the need to incur the costs of domain name recovery proceedings whenever we are able to do so. Sometimes recovery proceedings are unavoidable but we think that our long-standing experience can help make the difference. We have a very good idea of what it takes to succeed and how to avoid the potential pitfalls.
We have access to a range of investigative tools including domain name and website archive records. These can help uncover patterns of misconduct by domain name registrants.
Such evidence is often the difference between winning and losing. For example, a respondent once claimed that he had registered a domain name because it was descriptive and not just because it was also our client’s name. However, we uncovered another domain name connected with that respondent that mirrored another competitor in the same industry. The UDRP panellist cited that other domain as a key factor showing bad faith by the respondent.
It can be difficult for lawyers who are not specialists in the area to know when, how and where to find that critical extra evidence.
Structuring pre-action correspondence correctly is also important. What registrants say – or don’t say – in response, often supports the case made by the complainants.
If you are a domain name owner and find yourself on the receiving end of a complaint, don’t despair. It is certainly possible to defend yourself and win your case – especially if you can demonstrate legitimate rights to the name in dispute, if you have a track record of using it for legitimate reasons and you have not been behaving in an obviously abusive manner, such as trying to sell the name back to the complainant for a profit.
What’s our object when acting as solicitors for registrants/respondents?
Simply to defend the case as robustly and cost-effectively as possible. We always recommend attempting to negotiate a settlement if at all possible. We will provide guidance on your best options – a carefully considered strategy with full consideration of the risks and opportunities presented by different courses of action.
If you believe your valuable intellectual property has been compromised, contact us today for a free initial legal opinion on your situation!
We are expert domain name dispute solicitors. Call our highly experienced domain name dispute lawyer Adam Taylor for an initial chat on 0207 317 8404.
You will find many other testimonials from clients about our domain name disputes and cybersquatting service, showing how we can help.