Afilias will arbitrate against fraudulent sunrise registrants

The new '.info' domain name registry recently began accepting domain name registrations from trademark holders. Thousands of names containing legitimate marks have been registered since the 'sunrise' registration period launched in late-July. According to observers, however, many non-trademarked, generic names (eg, '.music') have also been registered using false trademark information.

When observers notified Afilias about the widespread fraud, the organization initially refused to revoke the registrations made in violation of its registration requirements. However, following a short investigation last week, the organization now says that after December 26 2001 it will arbitrate against any registrant that used false trademark information to register a '.info' domain name during the sunrise period.

In a statement on the registry's web site, CEO Hal Lubsen says: "Afilias is committed to doing its part to maintain the integrity of the '.info' domain, and believes that our direct challenge to questionable names will be in the best interest of both trademark holders and the general public."

Afilias has created a special sunrise arbitration procedure in conjunction with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) that is different from the Uniform Dispute Resolution Procedure currently available to those that wish to challenge a registration in the '.com', '.net' and '.org' registries. Under Afilias's procedure, anyone can challenge a sunrise period '.info' registration by filing a claim with WIPO and paying $295. Those who are challenged must pay $295 to defend. Registrants who win are reimbursed. Challengers who win get $220 back. In addition to getting most of the arbitration fee back, a successful challenger will be able to secure the challenged name if it holds the valid trademark for the name or if the arbitrator determines that the initial domain name registration was illegitimate.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers has stated that it will evaluate the effectiveness of '.info' sunrise procedures later this year.

Douglas Wood and Linda Goldstein, Hall Dickler Kent Goldstein & Wood, New York

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