Russia: how to fight cybersquatting efficiently?


russia-1020934_1280In Russia, no specific procedure is provided for the settlement of country code top-level domain (ccTLDs) disputes. A special defense strategy must therefore be adopted to fight cybersquatting in Russia.


Cybersquatting on the rise in Russia

The number of Internet users in Russia is increasing  year after year. In 2015 alone, the number of Russian users who surfthe Net on mobile devices increased by 90%. Consequently, the number of domain name registrations is growing rapidly.

Indeed, the rules on country code top-level domain name registration have become more flexible over recent years, and today one can easily register a domain name in .ru ou .рф, since registration of gTLDs in non-latin based scripts was enabled in 2009. This has led to an increase in the number of Russian cybersquatters as well as a surge in fraudulent domain name filings.


The fight against cybersquatting in Russia: a step-by-step guide

In order to take action against a cybersquatter in Russia, one must first ensure themselves that the intellectual property rights in question are in force in Russia: the Russian territory is not automatically covered by a European Union trademark.

One must therefore serve a formal notice to the fraudulent party. In the absence of a reply, a lawsuit under Russian law can be filed. Note that a formal notice should be sent prior to any action in a commercial court. However, sending a formal notice is not a necessary prerequisite if the dispute is brought before a court of common law.

In Russia, the UDRP procedure is not applicable to domain name disputes for domaine names such as <.ru> ou <.рф>, contrary to domain names in new generic top-level domains (new gTLDs) such as <.moscow> .

Trademark owners can  initiate proceedings against infringers in two different courts: commercial courts, which have jurisdiction over cases against individual business owners or legal entities as well as any commercial disputes, and common law courts, which have jurisdiction over disputes between private individuals.

In Russia, a domain name is not treated as a subject of intellectual property in its own right as are trademarks or corporate names. There is no special law to prevent the violation of trademark laws via domain names. One should therefore rely on trademark laws or alternative liability regimes in order to enforce the corresponding intellectual property rights.