Earlier this morning, I published a poll asking readers about the results of UDRP proceedings to gauge if readers think outcomes have recently been shifting more in favor of domain investors when it comes to valuable (generic / acronym) domain names. So far, it looks like approximately 2/3 of readers who voted in the poll believe domain registrants are faring better now than they did in prior years.
I did some researching using DNDisputes.com, and I was able to find some facts about how UDRP results have changed over the years at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). WIPO is the largest UDRP provider, and DNDisputes.com primarily archives decisions from WIPO.
Using DNDisputes.com, I shared the percentage of complaints denied (meaning the domain registrant won) since 2008:
- 2018 to date: Complaints denied – 5.81%
- 2017: Complaints denied – 7.03%
- 2016: Complaints denied – 7.56%
- 2015: Complaints denied – 8.86%
- 2014: Complaints denied – 9.45%
- 2013: Complaints denied – 9.22%
- 2012: Complaints denied – 9.12%
- 2011: Complaints denied – 10.49%
- 2010: Complaints denied – 10.31%
- 2009: Complaints denied – 11.5%
- 2008: Complaints denied – 13.66%
As you can see, domain registrants have been winning a much lower percentage of UDRP disputes at WIPO since 2008. I think there may be a few things contributing to the perception that domain registrants have had better outcomes more recently.
Over the past few years, I think domain industry blogs have been giving more coverage to UDRP filings involving valuable generic (dictionary words and phrases) and acronym domain names. When I see a UDRP filing involving a domain name that is valuable due to its descriptive nature, I write about it. Others do the same. Most of us do not write about the vast majority of UDRP filings that involve pretty obvious trademark violations.
This skewed coverage means that domain industry participants, likely those who responded in the poll, are focused primarily on the UDRP cases that have the best shot of winning. The vast majority of UDRP filings should (and do) go in favor of the complainant.
Based solely on my own observations, I do think domain registrants have a better shot at retaining a generic or acronym domain name these days than they did in the past. I believe there are a couple of reasons for this.
The ICA’s successful efforts to change the “Retroactive Bad Faith” theory for UDRP proceedings was very helpful. A complainant can no longer successfully argue that a domain owner’s renewal of a domain name was in bad faith. Someone who bought or registered a domain name years before a trademark holder who wants it no longer needs to fear that a UDRP panelist will rule that a subsequent renewal of the domain name was in bad faith. If the name was acquired or registered in good faith, then subsequent renewals should be free and clear.
As mentioned above, the domain industry coverage of UDRP filings and results involving valuable domain names (blogs and forums primarily) has increased. Perhaps this awareness has given some panelists a bit of a pause before ruling against a legitimate domain registrant. The coverage has also made registrants who are not domain investors more aware of the UDRP process and highlighted some of the best attorneys who specialize in UDRP defense.
Although UDRP panels, at least at WIPO, are being decided more in favor or complainants now than 10 years ago, I do think registrants have a better chance of retaining a valuable domain name these days than in prior years.