The Saudi domain name registry recenrtly nominated the WIPO as their provider for .sa and السعودية. domain names disputes.

The Saudi domain name registry recenrtly nominated the WIPO as their provider for .sa and السعودية .domain names disputes.

The conditions to be fullfilled by the Complainant are similar to those required under UDRP, which applies to all generic and to some national top-level domain names :

– the disputed domain name must be identical or confusingly similar to a mark on which the Complainant has rights;

– the domain name owner must have no rights or legitimate interests in the domain name;

– the domain name must have been registered or being used in bad faith.

The main difference between this new procedure and the UDRP lies in the bad faith of the domain name owner, since the conditions of registration and use of the domain name are not cumulative.

At first sight, it seems that there will be very little complaints against Saudi domain names. Indeed, any prospective Saudi domain owner must be either :

– a private individual or company located in Saudi Arabia;

– a private individual with Saudi citizenship;

– a registered Saudi trademark owner.

These requirements drastically reduce the risk of cybersquatting. To date, less than 80.000 domain names are registered with the Saudi domain registry.

Equally, these eligibility requirements will reduce the number of complaints, as the Complainant will have to fullfill any of these requirements to obtain the transfer of the disputed domain names: while a registered trademark is required to satisfy the first condition under the new dispute policy, it will be necessary for the trademark to be valid in Saudi Arabia – if the Plaignant is a foreign company – to obtain the transfer of the domain name.

It will be interesting to follow the first decisions rendered on Saudi domain names.