The Uniform Rapid Suspension System Proposal

I finally got a chance to review this new proposal going around in ICANN. It’s called the Uniform Rapid Suspension (URS) system.

In a nutshell, it calls for suspending or keeping offline a domain name. No web site, no email, nothing until the domain expires.

It was proposed by the trademark lobby group within ICANN in an effort to curb massive infringement of their respective trademarks. Although they’ve got the Uniform Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP) ever since, they wanted a faster and more cost-efficient mechanism.

Unlike the UDRP, though, this proposal seems more stringent. Stringent in the sense that not just anyone can file it.

In UDRP, you can demonstrate even an unregistered common-law trademark. One needs to have a registered trademark to prove they have established rights in URS:

“Whether the domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a mark in which the Complainant holds a valid trademark registration issued by a jurisdiction that conducts substantive examination of trademark applications prior to registration.”

Albeit one could probably do that anywhere that’s recognized by panelists.

URS has a couple more details more seemingly tougher to hurdle, but one main difference between URS and URDP is the domain name is never transferred. The domain name stays with its registered owner until it expires, although the domain name will have no online active service for the rest of its registration.

Also unlike the UDRP, URS has an appeals process:

“If the complaint is granted, the Registrant may request reconsideration on the original record by a URS ombudsman on the grounds that the decision was arbitrary and capricious or an abuse of discretion by the Examiner,40 or may initiate a proceeding de novo in a court of appropriate jurisdiction.”

Many people I know argued the UDRP should be modified to have that, but that’s still pending ICANN’s next round for it. At least people won’t necessarily have to sue in court after having a URS decision against them, although that’s a costly procedure.

One rather bad thing about the proposed URS is the so-called penalty for abuse complaints:

“If a Complainant has been held to have filed abusive complaints on three occasions, the Complainant will be barred from utilizing the URS for a one-year following the date of the last abusive complaint.”

Some lawyers I know opine that the UDRP had a record number of allegedly abusive complaints last year. I’ve seen a few of them, some of which were so bad you’d wish the complainant should be held accountable somehow.

On one hand, I can understand why the trademark lobby group wants this in place. But I’m rather surprised with the conditions they put in as I expected them to be more harsh.

Believe it or not, I actually agree with many of its provisions. And I sort of agree there ought to be some measure of curbing so-called no-brainer abusive registrations.

On the other hand, I’ve read in other sources that the circumstances behind creating this proposal were rather…odd. And I’m probably saying that mildly.

Specifically, I gather that even creating a task force to look into this proposal went against some of ICANN’s rules or provisions for this sort of thing. Already one other lobby group is questioning how that task force went about it.

One thing’s for sure: the trademark group will likely get this one approved unless other interested groups (and if ICANN will actually listen) chime in their thoughts. Speaking of which, you can email them at [email protected] and read other comments already made.

Some related writing:

Also, I apologize I couldn’t write about this sooner since there’s a deadline for comments. It’s up to June 29, so that leaves only a few weeks left.

Whatever you think about this, try to make your thoughts heard.

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