Only Bad Actors Should Worry About the URS

CircleID CircleID: Co-authored by David McAuley, Policy Manager at Verisign and Griffin Barnett, Associate at Winterfeldt IP Group.

With DNS abuse a topic of increased concern throughout the community, any controversy over adopting the Uniform Rapid Suspension System (URS) for all generic top-level domains (gTLDs) seems misplaced.

The URS was designed as a narrow supplement to the Uniform Domain-Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP), applicable only in certain tightly defined circumstances of clear-cut and incontrovertible trademark infringement involving the registration and use of a domain name. The ICANN Rights Protection Mechanism (RPM) Review Working Group has closely examined the URS over the past four years, and so far has consistently concluded it to be fit for purpose in quickly disabling the most egregious instances of bad faith registration and use of a domain name that takes unfair advantage of an established trademark.

A comprehensive January 2018 RPM Review Working Group analysis of all URS cases filed to that point demonstrated that it had been an effective tool against blatant cybersquatting and associated DNS abuse (e.g. phishing schemes leveraging a trademark-infringing domain name), with 827 cases brought against 1,861 domains and an average case duration of just 17 days. Nothing in the data, and nothing in the Working Group deliberations, has pointed toward any significant abuse of the URS (for instance, by overly aggressive or overreaching brand owners). In fact, the data suggest just the opposite, namely that brand owners have turned to the URS in only the very limited subset of instances where it is specifically intended to be used — i.e. to quickly suspend a domain name that, by clear and convincing evidence, is being used to infringe the complainant’s trademark to perpetrate consumer harm. Indeed, although the URS includes specific penalties for abusive complainants, no such abuses of the URS have been found to date.

The 2018 analysis also showed that the URS is providing meaningful due process for registrants, even in default cases, as well as a demonstrably effective appeals process. Nonetheless, to further improve the efficacy of the URS, the Working Group appears on track to recommend certain process improvements. These include enhanced notice requirements to ensure registrants receive proper notice of URS proceedings instituted against them, more clear language requirements to ensure proceedings are conducted in the registrant’s language, and making available additional information about the URS through ICANN and URS providers’ websites to help participants in the URS better understand the meaning of the proceedings and how to participate fairly.

In short, the case for adopting the URS in all gTLDs is clear — so clear that only those with something to gain from cybersquatting and other DNS abuses that leverage trademarks should worry about it being applied in those gTLDs where it has not yet been implemented. Otherwise, it seems obvious that those who hope for a cleaner DNS would support the adoption of the URS as an ICANN Consensus Policy applicable to all gTLDs.
Written by David McAuley, Senior International Policy Manager, Naming and Registry Services at VerisignFollow CircleID on TwitterMore under: Cybersecurity, Domain Management, DNS, Domain Names, ICANN, Brand Protection, Internet Governance, New TLDs, UDRP

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