By Doug Isenberg
Total Number of Cases (Source: WIPO)
The numbers tell the story: The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) received 2,884 domain name disputes in 2012, its most ever. As shown in WIPO’s chart above, the number of cases has risen ever year since 2003, with one exception in 2009 (the year following the global recession).
In addition, as the chart below shows, the total number of domain names in dispute (because one case can include multiple domain names) also hit a record level last year, reaching 5,081 domain names.
Total Number of Domain Names (Source: WIPO)
WIPO, the largest of the UDRP service providers, has not yet offered any explanations for the increase in domain name disputes, but it said last year that the “UDRP remains an attractive alternative to taking cybersquatting disputes to court.” Given the increase in total domain name registrations (246 million as of the end of the third quarter of 2012 — representing a 12% annual growth rate, according to Verisign) and the ongoing threats posed by cybersquatters, this statement surely remains true.
Ultimately, the launch of the new Uniform Rapid Suspension System (URS) later this year — an alternative to the UDRP for the new gTLDs, designed for “clear cases of trademark abuse” — may slow the rise in UDRP filings. But, the URS actually may lead to an even greater number of domain name dispute filings, given its simplified process and the certain spike in cybersquatting that will accompany the new gTLDs once registrations begin.