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    American Girl Loses Battle for AmericanGirl.ca Domain

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    Monday January 21, 2013
    American Girl, the well-known doll maker, recently lost a domain name battle over AmericanGirl.ca as panelist Bradley Freedman ruled that the company failed to meet the basic requirements in the dot-ca dispute resolution policy. The case should have been a slam dunk as the company's trademark pre-dates the domain name registration, the domain was being used for a pay-per-click site, and the domain name registrant did not even respond to the complaint.  Yet American Girl still lost as it failed meet one of the policy's basic requirements of providing some evidence that the registrant did not have a legitimate interest in the domain name.  In reading Freedman's decision, it is readily apparent that there was ample opportunity to do so, yet the company oddly did not take advantage of a CIRA policy that would have assisted it in making the case.  The left Freedman with little alternative but to conclude:

    Policy paragraph 1.1 provides that the purpose of the Policy is to provide a forum in which cases of bad faith domain name registration can be dealt with relatively inexpensively and quickly. Nevertheless, a proceeding under the Policy affects the respective rights of the parties regarding a disputed domain name, and the Policy and Rules expressly require a panel to consider all of the evidence and argument presented in the proceeding and render its decision in accordance with the Policy, the Rules and applicable law. Accordingly, a panel must determine whether a complainant has met its onus regarding each of the elements specified in Policy paragraph 4.1, and if a complainant has failed to do so the panel must dismiss the complaint.

    For the reasons set forth above, the Panel is compelled to conclude that the Complainant has failed to satisfy the onus to provide "some evidence" that the Registrant has no legitimate interest in the Domain Name as described in Policy paragraphs 3.4(e) and (f). Consequently, the Complaint cannot succeed.
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    Dot-ca Domain Dispute Rules Changes Coming This Month

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    Tuesday August 09, 2011
    Domain name disputes emerged as one of the first Internet legal issues in the mid-1990s as speculators recognized the value of domain names and the potential to resell them to the highest bidder. The growth of "cybersquatting" led to several unsuccessful attempts to establish a dispute resolution system. Finally, in 1999, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the agency responsible for administering the domain name system, created the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP), which has since resolved tens of thousands of disputed domains.

    The Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA), which manages the dot-ca domain, adopted its own dispute resolution policy, the CIRA Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (CDRP) in 2002. My weekly technology law column (Toronto Star version, homepage version) notes that using the UDRP as a model, CIRA developed a Canadian version that borrows much of its structure and content from the international approach, yet reflects Canadian law and policy.  


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    Dot-ca Domain Dispute Rules Changes Coming This Month

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    Tuesday August 09, 2011
    Appeared in the Toronto Star on August 7, 2011 as New rules for domain disputes

    Domain name disputes emerged as one of the first Internet legal issues in the mid-1990s as speculators recognized the value of domain names and the potential to resell them to the highest bidder. The growth of "cybersquatting" led to several unsuccessful attempts to establish a dispute resolution system. Finally, in 1999, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the agency responsible for administering the domain name system, created the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP), which has since resolved tens of thousands of disputed domains.

    The Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA), which manages the dot-ca domain, adopted its own dispute resolution policy, the CIRA Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (CDRP) in 2002. Using the UDRP as a model, CIRA developed a Canadian version that borrows much of its structure and content from the international approach, yet reflects Canadian law and policy.  

    The "Canadianization" of the ICANN UDRP reflected a consensus that the CDRP should be balanced and impartial and that Canada was positioned to correct perceived flaws in the international model. The result was a policy that borrowed its structure from the ICANN UDRP, since that process was familiar to many within the legal and Internet communities. The Canadian policy calls for quick adjudication of all disputes in a cost-effective manner and ensures that either party may still launch a court action if they are left unsatisfied.

    Trademark holders who believe a dot-ca domain name registration involves cybersquatting may file a claim supported by evidence of their rights to the trademark, bad faith by the domain name registrant, and the fact that the registrant has no legitimate interest in the name.  The domain name registrant is then provided with an opportunity to rebut the claim. Expert panelists adjudicate the cases with written decisions delivered within a few months.

    The CDRP has dealt with many well-known trademarks over the years. Recent cases include the transfer of ultimatefightingchampionship.ca, ufc.ca, jockey.ca, mentos.ca, and americanidol.ca to trademark holders.

    The organization recently announced a series of reforms set to take effect later this month that, once implemented, will more closely mirror the ICANN UDRP and could lead to an increase in complaints.

    The most important change involves an expanded definition of what constitutes "bad faith" under the policy. Both the ICANN and CIRA dispute models are intended to be limited to clear cases of cybersquatting and the bad faith definition establishes the boundaries of potential claims.

    The CDRP initially included an exhaustive list of bad faith characteristics including registering a domain name with the intent to sell it to the trademark holder or registering multiple domain names that correspond to trademarks (a practice known as warehousing domains).

    The exhaustive list was intended to guard against the ICANN experience where dispute panelists ventured well beyond clear cases of cybersquatting by creating their own categories of bad faith. Under the new CIRA policy, the bad faith list is now non-exhaustive, opening the door to more domain name dispute claims and increasing the risk of inconsistent decisions.

    The new policy does, however, provide greater protection for registrants of generic domain names. These include generic words that may correspond to a trademark, but are widely used for many other purposes.  Registrants will no longer be required to marshall evidence they have used the generic domain in order to claim a legitimate interest.

    Other changes include shortening the implementation period to allow for faster domain name transfers after a decision is released and allowing for domain names to change hands during the dispute process should the parties settle the case.  

    Michael Geist holds the Canada Research Chair in Internet and E-commerce Law at the University of Ottawa, Faculty of Law. He can reached at mgeist@uottawa.ca or online at www.michaelgeist.ca.


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    CIRA Implements Revised Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy Rules

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    Friday July 22, 2011
    CIRA has announced changes to the dot-ca domain name dispute resolution policy. The changes expand the scope of bad faith, but also eliminate the need for use for generic domain names. The changes take effect on August 22nd.
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