Issue 72 | May 1, 2003
Look Out. You May Lose Your Domain Name.
 Without fanfare, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (“ICANN”) recently adopted policies that could result in unwary businesses losing their domain names.

ICANN is the international body that oversees domain name registration, and which formulated the Uniform Dispute Resolution Policies (“UDRP”). The UDRP is an administrative dispute resolution system primarily designed to give trademark owners a quicker, less expensive forum to fight “cybersquatting” and to prevent others from registering the trademark owner’s trademark as a domain name.

A common practice of cybersquatters is to give false or misleading information to the domain name registrar in order to disguise the identity of the cybersquatter. To combat these tactics, ICANN’s recently adopted policies require that all domain name owners be contacted annually by their registrars to ensure that the contact data for the domain name owner is correct. If the domain name owner fails to reply to the registrar’s inquiry, the domain name may be cancelled.

An unintended consequence of these new policies may be the cancellation of domain names owned by legitimate users. A business that through oversight or error provided incorrect initial contact information (or that failed to update the contact information to reflect an office move, change in personnel, change in e-mail addresses, etc.) may never receive or respond to the inquiry from the registrar, resulting in cancellation of the domain name.

Some practical steps to help minimize the risk of accidentally losing an important domain name include: quarterly review of the domain name information, and setting up a single general-access “info” e-mail address for all domain name registrations that will not change as personnel leave the company.

Even before the recent changes, it was not uncommon for domain names to accidentally expire because a business did not receive the e-mail notification that the registration of the domain name was due for renewal. After the new policies, it is even more important that businesses ensure that someone is “minding the store” with respect to domain names, and in particular, ensure that the contact information for the domain name is current.

To discuss these issues further, please contact the author, Robert Dulaney at Thomas, Kayden, Horstemeyer & Risley in Atlanta.

The information contained in this email is provided for informational purposes only and does not represent legal advice. Neither the APLF nor the author intends to create an attorney client relationship by providing this information to you through this message.