July 2015: amendment of UDRP rules against “cyberflight”

As from July 2015, cybersquatters will not be able to “fly” towards another registrar when they are targeted by an UDRP Complaint!

ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers), the organization responsible for naming the Internet, announced recently the approval of new URDP (Uniform Domain-Name Dispute-Resolution Policy) rules. The main amendment aims to fight against “Cyberflight”.

This change has its origins in the GNSO’s (Generic Names Supporting Organization, the body representing the States within ICANN) recommendations which are stated in the Report on blocking domain names covered by UDRP complaints, dated July 5, 2013.

Cyberflight is a relatively common practice used by cybersquatters who, upon receipt of an UDRP complaint, transfer the domain to another registrar. GNSO observes in its report that most of the registrars were blocking the domain names following a notification relative to the lodging of an UDRP complaint. However, it is not a regular practice as there were no UDRP rules regarding such blocking. Thus, where the domain name was not blocked, the cybersquatter could change registrar and avoid the UDRP dispute.

According to the new rules, any accredited registrar must, within 2 business days, block the domain name upon notification of an UDRP procedure (rule 4(b)). This technical measure prevents the transfer but affects neither the resolution of the domain, nor its renewal. Thus, the holder of the disputed domain name will not be able to change the registrant or registrar. Blocking the domain name will not have an impact on the registrar’s obligation to provide the real identity of the registrant.

Another change which aims to restrict cyberflight consists in the removal of the complainant’s obligation to send a copy of the complaint to the respondent (rule 3(b)(xii)). Thus, the holder of the disputed domain name is not informed as from the start of the UDRP proceedings and before the domain name is blocked by the registrar. He is also prohibited from notifying the holder of the domain name.

In situations where the complaint is either withdrawn or dismissed, the registrar must withdraw the blockage within one business day.

We can only applaud these new rules which will come into effect on July 31, 2015 and shall apply to all registrars accredited by ICANN.