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International Organization Condemns Cybersquatting

A United Nations body is looking to outlaw the common practice of cybersquatting--registering a popular Internet address with the intent to sell it -- saying that trademark owners should have first rights to them.

The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Friday sent a draft of its proposal to the Internet Corp. for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), an international group that has been set up as the Internet's governing body.

Cybersquatting is reportedly a common problem among domain registrants. WIPO cited a study that found 85 percent of participants had experienced infringement on the Internet of their own or their clients' intellectual property and 60 percent negotiated for the purchase of their domain name through informal means.

Looking to "reduce the tension that exists between domain names and intellectual property right," WIPO recommends the adoption of improved, standard practices for registrars with authority to register domain names in the generic top-level domains (gTLDs), the report said.

Under the proposal, accurate and reliable data should be made publicly available on domain name holders and registration be canceled if that information is false or cannot be confirmed. The report also suggests that registrants pay in advance, to ward off squatters who try to sell domain names before the bill arrives.

Those who are found to be cybersquatters would be subject to mandatory arbitration, possibly resulting in the surrender of that domain name and being charged the fees for resolving the disputes.

"We confirm the provisional recommendation in the WIPO Interim Report that, with these improved practices and procedures, not only would problems in the existing gTLDs be reduced significantly, bust also it would be possible to contemplate the introduction of new gTLDs from an intellectual property perspective," the report said.



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