China improves rules for '.cn' domain name dispute resolution

China

China has implemented new legislation in relation to '.cn' domain names, including (i) the PRC Internet Domain Name Administrative Measures - which bring the administration of domain names within the remit of the Ministry of Information Industry - and, (ii) the China Internet Network Information Centre (CNNIC) Domain Name Dispute Resolution (DNDR) Policy and Rules - which apply to both Latin script and Chinese character domain names in the '.cn' domain space.

Only CNNIC-authorized dispute resolution service providers may resolve disputes involving country-code top-level domain names. These service providers may formulate supplemental procedural rules and appoint panellists.

The new framework allows a complainant to lodge a claim with the CNNIC and elect to have the dispute heard by one or three panellists. Complaints relating to multiple domain names may be consolidated where the same complainant and respondent are involved.

To be successful, a complainant must satisfy three requirements - similar to those found in ICANN's Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP). However, while under Article 4(a) of the UDRP a complainant must prove that the disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which it has rights, Article 8 of the DNDR Policy allows the complainant to prove that the disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to its company name, even if that name is not used as a mark.

In the event that the complainant succeeds, the panel may either cancel the domain name registration or order its transfer. At any time during the dispute resolution proceedings or even after the panel has made its decision, either party may bring the matter before the courts or, subject to the parties' agreement, submit the dispute to arbitration.

The DNDR Policy and Rules automatically become part of existing domain name registration agreements. Holders of '.cn' domain names may notify their respective registrar within a timely manner of their refusal to accept the new agreement. However, domain name holders that do not accept the new agreement risk having their registration cancelled.

Gabriela Kennedy, Lovells, Hong Kong

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