Canadian Domain Name Decisions & Stats

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This month marks the 25th year of operations for the .CA domain, Canada’s country-code top-level domain (ccTLD). It was originally allocated to John Demco, an employee of UBC, who operated the domain on a volunteer basis between 1987 and 2000, when it was formally transferred to CIRA (the Canadian Internet Registration Authority). I still recall the days when the mentality around domain name disputes was quite simple - someone knew someone who knew Jon Postel, who could simply reallocate the nameservers. Today, .CA disputes are resolved through formal arbitration under the CDRP - the CIRA Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy, version 1.3 which came into effect August 22, 2011. A few recent decisions:

  • Transfer Granted: In Oakley Inc. v. Zhou Yayang, the famous manufacturer of sunglasses and sportswear claimed rights in the domain name DISCOUNT-OAKLEYSUNGLASSES-SALE.CA. This case was a classic “squatter” case which featured a registrant who filed no defence. Evidence that the domain was being used to sell Oakley products outside of Oakley’s distribution chain. A long line of decisions was cited to support Oakley’s win, and the domain name was ordered to be transferred.
  • Claim Dismissed: In Ebates Canada Inc. v. Cranhill & Co., there was a dispute about the EBATES.CA domain name. Ebates Canada claimed that it was the exclusive Canadian licensee of the trade-mark EBATES, a mark which is the subject of two competing trade-mark applications in the Canadian trade-marks office. Cranhill, the registrant, argued that it enjoyed earlier use of the name EBATES dating back to 1994 and had rights in 2000, the year the domain name was registered. In deciding to dismiss the complaint, the panelists noted that the claimant Ebates Canada Inc. was not incorporated until 2011. It did not exist in 2000 and could not have had any rights at the time the domain name was registered.

What’s the overall chance of success? If recent statistics are any guide, decisions are most often rendered in favour of applicants. There have been 51 decisions in 2010, 2011 and 2012 (to date) and of those decisions, roughly 80% of decisions have resulted in a transfer; in about 20% of the cases, the claim was dismissed. That may reflect the fact that applicants will only pursue a remedy through the CDRP when they have a strong case. In about 64% of the cases, a single arbitrator was used, as opposed to a panel of 3 decison-makers. Interestingly, of the cases in which the claim was dismissed, the majority (72%) were decided by a 3-member panel.

Published In: Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Updates, Civil Remedies Updates, Communications & Media Updates, Intellectual Property Updates, Science, Computers & Technology Updates

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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