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Russia has a unique system for resolving domain disputes

On April 15, the scientific and practical conference International Domain Disputes: Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow took place online. It was organized by the Coordination Center for TLD .RU/.РФ and the Russian State Academy of Intellectual Property.

The conference was aimed at exchanging the results of scientific work as well as practical and theoretical experience, and promoting international cooperation in protecting means of individualization (primarily trademarks) when using them on the internet and in domain disputes.

In his opening remarks, Coordination Center Director Andrey Vorobyev noted that WIPO’s decisions on UDRP (Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy) are being challenged more often in court, both in Russia and abroad. We are seeing this trend today because UDRP does not always align with national laws on trademark protection and domain disputes. At the same time, the practice of resolving disputes over the ownership of domain names registered in international domain zones under the UDRP procedure has proven to be highly effective. The WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center in Geneva is reviewing more domain disputes where one and sometimes both sides are Russian organizations or citizens.

ICANN’s plans to launch the second phase of its New gTLD Program in the coming years will add many new domain zones to the domain name system.

“There will be more top-level domains, and domain disputes in new zones will arise more often. And, of course, an arbitration center in Russia, in which such disputes would be examined in Russian, would be convenient for Russian trademark owners and domain registrants,” noted Andrey Vorobyev.

Zaurbek Albegonov, Senior Counsellor at the WIPO Office in Russia, noted that the UDRP is used to solve cross-border disputes, among other things. The procedure has existed since 1999, and since then more than 50,000 disputes have been heard, including over 4,200 in 2020. The short process (a case results in a decision in two months on average), relatively low cost and simple procedure (in absentia) are its advantages. WIPO has a guide to the UDRP available on its website.

Coordination Center Deputy Director Sergei Kopylov said that the Russian ccTLDs have a unique hybrid system for resolving domain disputes where domain name registrars, the registry and state judicial authorities interact. He noted that regulations on domain disputes, a special annex to the rules for registering domain names in .RU and .РФ, were developed for this interaction. The document describes in detail the entire procedure for the trademark holder, the procedure for pre-trial blocking of the disputed domain name, and the interaction algorithm for all parties to the dispute.

Anton Sergo, Professor at the Russian State Academy of Intellectual Property and President of the Internet and Law legal firm, drew the attention of the participants and listeners to the fact that the UDRP procedure was fundamentally different from the principles that underlie the legislation on domain disputes in Russia. The UDRP is based on the concept of bad faith, and this concept is only now starting to be applied in domestic judicial practice.

Taking part in the conference were Maya Yevdokimova, Vice Rector for Innovative Development and Science at the Russian State Academy of Intellectual Property; Darya Biryukova, Director of the International IP Competence Center; Yevgenia Korobenkova, leading specialist of the Rospatent International Cooperation Directorate; and other experts.

The participants talked about how and where trademark holders can appeal to protect their rights, how to substantiate the good-faith ownership of a domain, and how to evaluate a domain name in the secondary market. At the end of the conference, participants once again considered whether Russia needs its own arbitration center, and agreed that this would be beneficial both for the participants in the Russian domain market and for the judicial authorities, and would also raise Russia’s prestige in this area on the international stage.

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