What to do if a UDRP Complaint has been filed against your domain name

What is the UDRP?
Defending a UDRP
UDRP Review and Reform
Reverse Domain Name Hijacking (RDNH)

If you have maintained up-to-date contact information with your domain registrar then you will receive e-mail notice that a UDRP has been filed against a domain for which you are listed as registrant. You have a very limited time to respond and the case will proceed to judgment even if you do not get your side of the story on record, so it is important to take quick action if you wish to retain your domain and avoid being found to be a cybersquatter.

If you believe that you may have a defensible case and you wish to retain ownership of the disputed domain name, it is advisable to immediately consult with an attorney who is experienced with UDRP practice for further advice and counsel. Most general practitioners without trademark law expertise will not be familiar with the UDRP and its specific administrative and evidentiary requirements.

These are some articles that provide additional information about responding to a UDRP complaint:

http://www.domaininvesting.com/5-with-attorney-zak-muscovitch/

http://www.dnjournal.com/articles/legal/brett-lewis-on-udrp.htm

http://www.domaininvesting.com/why-its-bad-not-to-respond-to-udrp/

http://tcattorney.typepad.com/anticybersquatting_consum/2010/03/how-to-respond-to-a-udrp-complaint.html

Selecting a Domain Attorney

Defending UDRP disputes on behalf of domain registrants is a highly specialized practice. The UDRP is a unique dispute resolution mechanism with its own policies, procedures, and standards. Though it is intended to be uniform there are only general guidance and no binding precedents for panelists, so in practice the decisional rationale and interpretations of fact patterns can vary from panelist to panelist, resulting in inconsistent and unpredictable decisions. Panelists are given full leeway to decide cases as they see fit, and the views of certain panelists on how to implement and interpret the UDRP are frequently in conflict with the view of other panelists. The outcome of a dispute therefore may depend on which panelist or panelists are assigned to your case, and both the complainant and respondent get to select one member each of a three-member panel.

For these reasons, even attorneys who have substantial litigation experience but lack a history of handling UDRP disputes may fare poorly when preparing a UDRP response. Attorneys who specialize in UDRP practice are familiar with those arguments that have the greatest likelihood of success, which prior relevant case decisions are best to cite, and how various panelists interpret the UDRP. Such experience is more likely to yield a favorable decision for the registrant.

A substantial part of the livelihood of most ICA members derives from their investment and development of domain names. Many ICA members are domain investors who have faced numerous UDRP complaints and in many cases have successfully defended or appealed them. They do not wish to be branded a cybersquatter both to protect their reputation, and because such a finding can weigh against them in a future UDRP action. In some instances they believe that the complaint was brought with intent by an unscrupulous trademark owner to reverse domain name hijack their asset and secure its transfer without any compensation due to the domain owner. With their valuable business assets at risk and their reputations and livelihoods at stake, ICA members rely on attorneys who are experienced with the UDRP to represent them in UDRP disputes.

The ICA has surveyed its membership to identify the UDRP attorneys whom ICA members use to prepare their responses to UDRP complaints and would recommend to others. More than a dozen members participated in the survey. The attorneys listed below were recommended most often. They are all quite experienced attorneys who have collectively handled hundreds of UDRP responses:

John Berryhill
Ari Goldberger and Jason Schaeffer, of Esqwire.com * ‡
Stevan Lieberman, of Greenberg & Lieberman * ‡
Zak Muscovitch, of The Muscovitch Law Firm * ‡

[Symbols: * = Member of the ICA; ‡ = Participant in ICA’s Legal Advisory Group]

In addition to these four attorneys, there are many other experienced attorneys who handle UDRP responses. They include-

Karen J. Bernstein
Robert Kain
Paul Keating
Bret Lewis
Howard Neu * ‡
Carl Oppedahl
Enrico Schaefer
David Weslow

This is not meant to be a comprehensive global listing of attorneys with UDRP experience. The ICA recommends that any recipient of a UDRP complaint fully explore and evaluate the qualifications of any potential counsel, including any of the attorneys noted above, and cannot guarantee successful results from using any particular attorney. Any engagement of a particular attorney is at your sole judgment and risk.

Here are some useful articles about selecting an attorney to handle a UDRP response.

http://www.domainarts.com/2011/09/14/udrp-lawyers/

http://www.domaininvesting.com/domain-name-lawyers/