Conflicting domain name rules resolved in Amway case

Vietnam

Vietnam's domain name recovery system suffers from numerous barriers. So far, the civil court system has been the main way of recovering cybersquatted domain names

Amway, the US direct marketing business, recently sued a cybersquatter to recover the domain name ‘amway.2u.vn’. Amway trades in Vietnam through ‘amway2u.com.vn’ and owns AMWAY trademarks, so it was - in theory - in a strong position against the cybersquatter. 

The real issue was not, however, the substantive cybersquatting case but, as is common in Vietnam, the often conflicting bureaucratic rules on how to get something done. A decision to transfer the domain name was issued by the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST), which hears administrative domain name disputes. A MOST order then needs to be executed by the National Domain Name operator, VNNIC, and the registrar thereunder. 

The problem was that VNNIC had for some years refused to execute administrative decisions, because the rules of its own parent, the Ministry of Information and Communications, required a court decision, and a MOST administrative decision did not satisfy this requirement.

The ‘amway.2u.vn’ case sparked a series of ministerial meetings, which led to the Ministry of Information and Communications having to accept that MOST did have the requisite authority to adjudicate domain name cases under MOST’s regulations and that, therefore, the domain name should be transferred. 

Vietnam frequently suffers from conflicting internal policies and regulations. It makes enforcement time-consuming and expensive for rights holders. The government’s usual method is to issue rules, but not consider which earlier regulations need to be repealed or amended. IP rights holders face a higher cost of doing business in such an environment. At least, in the present case, the conflict was resolved and there is now a real prospect of effective administrative domain name resolutions.

Nick Redfearn, Rouse, Indonesia

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