23 February 2017Jurisdiction reportsAzlina Aisyah Khalid

Protecting rights in top-level domains

The domain name system was introduced in 1983. A domain name was initially a proxy of an IP address, which functions as an identifier to locate or recognise internet resources, such as computers, networks, and services, with a text-based label that is easier to memorise than the numerical addresses used in the IPs. When the system was devised in the 1980s, there were only two groups: (a) country code top-level domains (ccTLDs); and (b) seven generic top-level domains (gTLDs).

The internet grew and expanded exponentially, and the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) was established in 1998. Its duties include administering registries of IP identifiers. As a byproduct of domain name registration, many businesses and companies use their trademarks and brands in their domain names.

However, this did not come about without any challenges, and one of ICANN’s initial core tasks was to manage the ‘trademark dilemma’: there had been prolific use and registration of domain names which included trademarks, more often than not by parties who were not the owners of the said trademarks.

From an intellectual property perspective, misappropriation of domain names may be categorised as cybersquatting, typosquatting and parasitic behaviour. Cybersquatting is the act of registering or using a domain name that uses a party’s trademark in an unauthorised manner. Typosquatting differs in that it relies on the typographical errors that may be made by internet users when they input a website address into a browser. This can range from common misspelling of words or genuine typographical mistakes by the users, or even differently phrased domain names. Similarly, parasite owners also expect to gain financially through use of the offending domain name.

Already registered?

Login to your account

To request a FREE 2-week trial subscription, please signup.
NOTE - this can take up to 48hrs to be approved.

Two Weeks Free Trial

For multi-user price options, or to check if your company has an existing subscription that we can add you to for FREE, please email Adrian Tapping at atapping@newtonmedia.co.uk