WIPO, the World Intellectual Property Organization, has recently announced that its Arbitration and Mediation Center has been appointed by the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) to administer domain name disputes under .CN and .中国, the country code Top Level Domains for China.

As brand owners are increasingly becoming the target of more cybersquatting and cyberfraud, access to domain name dispute resolution services is crucial in order to protect not only their brands but also their consumers.

As Anchovy News readers will no doubt be aware, the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center is one of the main providers of domain name dispute resolution services. It administers disputes under all generic Top Level Domains (gTLDs) as well as over 75 country code Top Level Domains (ccTLDs) (the full list is available here). China's ccTLDs, .CN (one of the largest ccTLDs with approximately 22 million registered domain names) and .中国, have now been added to the list further to the conclusion of a memorandum of understanding signed between WIPO Director General Francis Gurry and CAC Minister Zhuang Rongwen on 21 July 2019.

Since 1 August 2019, the WIPO Center has thus become the first non-Chinese entity to administer domain name disputes under the Chinese ccTLDs. This is good news for brand owners who may find it easier to file complaints and protect their rights in the .CN namespace.

Francis Gurry said that “Authenticity on the Internet is critical to ensuring the safety and expansion of e-commerce and restoring domain names to legitimate trademark and other rights owners contributes to curbing consumer deception – in a market as large as China this assumes even greater significance.”

Anchovy News readers will be aware that the WIPO Center offers domain name dispute resolution services under the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP), which applies to most gTLDs and approximately 40 ccTLDs (for example Colombia's .CO, Montenegro's .ME and Tuvalu's .TV). But the WIPO Center also administers disputes in the many ccTLDs that have adopted a variation of the UDRP – for example France's .FR, Spain's .ES or Sweden's .SE. CNNIC, the Chinese Registry, has also adopted a variation of the UDRP for .CN and .中国 domain names disputes.

The details of the China ccTLD Dispute Resolution Policy (CNDRP) are available on the Chinese Registry's website here. The main differences between the CNDRP and the UDRP are set out below:

Applicability

The CNDRP only applies to .CN and .中国 domain names that have been registered for less than three years, whereas there is no such time limit under the UDRP (and under most country-specific dispute resolution policies). The time frame was previously two years but it was recently extended to three years (see our June 2019 edition of Anchovy News), which is a welcome improvement.

Rights covered

The CNDRP applies to .CN and .中国 domain names that are identical or confusingly similar to any name in which the complainant has civil rights or interests. The scope of the UDRP is narrower as it is limited to trade mark rights.

Bad faith requirement

Under the CNDRP, the complainant only needs to prove that either registration or use of the disputed domain name is in bad faith, while under the UDRP the complainant is required to prove both elements.

Further details on the differences between both policies are available on WIPO's website here.

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