Why Aren’t Domain Industry Lawyers UDRP Panelists?

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One thing I noticed is that it seems there are UDRP panelists who either represent clients in UDRP proceedings or work at law firms that represent clients in UDRP proceedings. Based on my own recollection, I don’t believe there are  any domain name lawyers (who are also experienced in intellectual property law) who serve as a UDRP panelist.

When a domain owner has a domain name that is the subject of a UDRP proceeding, one would expect the UDRP panelist(s) to be experienced intellectual property attorneys. Understanding and having IP experience is necessary when considering cases involving IP-related issues.

That being said, I think every domain name investment industry lawyer has a background in intellectual property and trademark law. There are quite a few exceptional attorneys who regularly represent domain investor clients, and I don’t understand why none of them seem to serve as panelists for WIPO or NAF UDRP cases.

UDRP panelists need to be neutral when serving, and I would imagine domain investment industry attorneys can be as neutral as their counterparties who represent trademark owners. I can’t imagine this would be the issue.

In my opinion, the vast majority of UDRP proceedings are pretty clear cut. On cases that involve valuable generic domain names, I don’t see why a domain owner shouldn’t be able to choose a panelist that represents domain investor interests for the panel when a UDRP complainant can choose a panelist who represents trademark interests.

I am curious why there aren’t any domain name lawyers serving as UDRP panelists. Could it be that none of these attorneys is interested in serving on UDRP panels? Shouldn’t domain industry  attorneys be panelists in the same way lawyers who represent trademark interests are panelists? Of course, I may have missed something important, and if that is the case, I would appreciate it if someone could tell me what I missed.

9 COMMENTS

  1. It’s likely not lucrative enough and could only draw ire from potential domain owner clients if a UDRP decision is disagreeable to many domain owners. Risk vs reward may not be there to make it worthwhile.

  2. On cases that involve valuable generic domain names, I don’t see why a domain owner shouldn’t be able to choose a panelist that represents domain investor interests for the panel when a UDRP complainant can choose a panelist who represents trademark interests.

    In a 3 member panel the claimant and the respondent both suggest panelists

  3. “Shouldn’t domain industry attorneys be panelists in the same way lawyers who represent trademark interests are panelists?”
    No. My opinion is that no practicing attorney should be a UDRP panelist. But may be that is just me.

    There are enough judges, retired judges and academics to cover the UDRP.

    “Domain industry attorneys” are probably just being true to their ethics or probably too little money.

    Panelists that represent trademark interests shouldn’t be allowed on the panelist list. Some of these are panelists that find in favor of the trademark owner no matter what the facts are.
    Also these “people” use their decisions to find new clients.

  4. Elliot, I’ve asked some domain lawyers this question point blank several times over the years and was told by a couple that they applied but were not accepted because they were known to represent domain investor respondents.

  5. after loosing 2 domains in UDRP… i have reached to this conclusion Arbitration forums are Profit making companies in disguise of ORG… choosing 3 panelist gives the respondent a slim chance as he pays more than the complainant…

    • Of course they are and they want to support their paying customers, not scare them away.
      The worst by far is NAF a.k.a. the Forum. They will assign the worst panelists (to single-member panel) so that controversial cases will always end up in favor of the trademark holder. By “worst” I mean panelists also representing trademark holders.

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