The pros and cons of the new URS procedure against cybersquatting in the new gTLDs in comparison with the UDRP

ICANN has just announced the updated version of the URS (Uniform Rapid Suspension), which is the procedure dedicated to new gTLDs complementing the current UDRP (Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy). The updates are minor, but they nevertheless include guidelines similar to those implemented for the UDRP. These guidelines will assist the parties or their counsels along the various stages of the procedure.

In addition, each URS arbitration center is expected to produce supplemental supplementary rules to help standardize conduct for the center’s interactions with complainants and respondents. Supplemental rules are already in place for the UDRP. The URS taxes will be outlined in these supplemental rules.

For the time being, the National Arbitration Forum is the only URS provider.

This update is a great opportunity to focus on the differences between the new URS and its elder sister the UDRP.

The URS provides a quicker and less expensive resolution system but with limited impact since it can only order the suspension of the disputed domain name until its expiration. It is not possible to obtain the transfer or cancellation of the domain name via the URS. The respondent can request a yearlong extension as from the expiration date.

The quicker resolution system generates substantial differences between both procedures. The URS complaints are much briefer than those of the UDRP since it limits the complainant’s explanatory statement to 500 words against 5000 with the UDRP, which greatly restricts the arguments. The objective is indeed to limit the URS to obvious cybersquatting acts. The response to the complaint is limited to 2500 words. The respondent has only 14 days instead of 20 with the UDRP in which to respond.  In addition, when rendering the decision, the Examiner has only 5 days instead of 14 as from the response or from the expiration of the deadline to file a response.

When it comes to tax issues, according to (the) ICANN, the URS tax should be between 300-500USD, which is less than the 1500USD requested by the WIPO arbitration center for the UDRP.

Differences are not only limited to the length of procedures and their costs. The URS procedure requires the list of goods/services of the trademark(s) cited in the complaint as well as evidence of the use of said trademarks. The URS complaint has to be filed in English but the respondent’s reply can be drafted in their native language if the complaint was notified in this language. In addition, if the respondent does not reply to the complaint, the registry will notify them that they are prohibited from changing the website and the whois content. If the whois can be blocked directly by the registry, the latter cannot technically freeze the website, so if the registrant changes the website, which authority will intervene?  In the situation where the respondent is at fault and the Examiner rules in favor of the complainant, the respondent can file a response within 6 months of the decision, which would reinitiate the URS procedure. This implies that the ruling is not definitive during this 6 months period.

Finally, even though the UDRP allows the respondent 10 days as from the notification of the decision to file a judicial action against the complainant , it does not provide an appeal procedure. This is now done by the URS which provides an appeal procedure with the selection of an appeal examiner.