The UDRP: Design Elements of an Effective ADR Mechanism – Vol. 15 No. 2

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Authors: Nicholas Smith and Erik Wilbers*

Published: December 2005

Dispute Resolution and Litigation
Practice and Procedure



The Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (“UDRP” or the “Policy”) has proven successful in providing a low-cost alternative means of resolving disputes involving the bad faith registration of trademarks or variations thereof as Internet domain names. Adopted by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (“ICANN”) on the recommendation of the Geneva-based World Intellectual Property Organization (“WIPO”), the UDRP came into effect in late 1999. To date, there have been some 13,000 UDRP cases, involving many more domain names. Over 8,000 of those cases have been filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”). The UDRP’s speed, transparency, low cost and international application and enforcement have made it a popular and respected tool for trademark owners to protect their rights without going to court.

While part of the success of the UDRP is due to the quality of the decisionmakers and case management resources, they operate within a framework of design elements incorporated into the UDRP, together with the UDRP Rules and the Supplemental Rules governing the disputes. Over the past six years, these design elements have proven instrumental in the effective functioning of this dispute resolution mechanism, and, though capable of improvements in details, the UDRP framework has not required updating since its introduction. Every examination of the question whether and to what extent the UDRP model lends itself to application in different ADR settings requires consideration of the specific design elements that together make up the UDRP. Against the background of six years of WIPO UDRP case administration, this article will outline what may be considered to be the principal components of the UDRP system.

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*Erik Wilders is the Acting Director of the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center and Head of its Domain Name Dispute Resolution Section. Nicholas Smith was a member of this Section’s legal staff. The views expressed in this article are not necessarily those of WIPO or any of its Member States.