Today's WIPO Press Release, 2007/479, is headed "Cybersquatting Remains on the Rise with further Risk to Trademarks from New Registration Practices".
Right: WIPO's report shows how important it is to protect our cyberspace from parasites ...
The release, which summarises WIPO's dispute resolution activities during 2006, makes depressing reading for serious businesses as the proliferation of nutty top level domains - the appearance of which seems to have been supply-led rather than in response to any serious demand - has given parasites of all description a golden opportunity to cause annoyance and confusion without providing any genuine benefit to the crowded cyberworld we share. The press release opens pretty gloomily:
"The number of cybersquatting disputes filed with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in 2006 increased by 15% as compared to 2005. [STOP PRESS: A correction from WIPO says this figure should read "25%"]. In a related development, the evolution of the domain name registration system is causing growing concern for trademark owners, in particular some of the effects of the use of computer software to automatically register expired domain names and their ‘parking’ on pay-per-click portal sites, the option to register names free-of-charge for a five-day ‘tasting’ period, the proliferation of new registrars, and the establishment of new generic Top Level Domains (gTLDs). The combined result of these developments is to create greater opportunities for the mass, often anonymous, registration of domain names without specific consideration of third-party intellectual property rights".After that bright and cheerful start, it really gets painful. Citing facts and figures, together with the growth of new forms of domain name registration abuse, the report acknowledges that the UDRP decision criteria must accommodate changing circumstances and new developments.
The IPKat notes the irony that old-fashioned cyberquatters, who carefully selected their targets and then registered them in the hope that they could get a decent sum for surrendering them, are now being squeezed out by the new generation of automated techno-cyberquatters who just mass-register everything that's available: this shows how the cybersquatters' business models have adapted to the possibilities offered by the new technologies. Merpel agrees and adds: freedom to use the internet has been hopelessly abused and the i-environment is polluted beyond belief. Has anyone costed out the effect to the economy of submerging all of us who are legitimate internet users under tons of spam, phishing, frauds and unsolicited rubbish that we have to clear out daily before we can even begin to work on our computers?