ICANN selects arbitration board

The Minneapolis-based National Arbitration Forum has been selected by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) as one of the organisations that will oversee arbitration in cybersquatting disputes.

The National Arbitration Forum is a nationwide network of former judges, lawyers and law professors who attempt to settle disputes according to established legal principles. Under ICANN's resolution dispute policy, parties involved in a cybersquatting case have the option to go to arbitration, a procedure that usually takes less time and costs less than going to court.

So far the National Arbitration Forum and the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) based in Geneva are the only two entities that have been selected by ICANN as arbitrators, but other organisations have applied, a spokeswoman for ICANN said yesterday.

Cybersquatting cases have become a problem for companies and individuals who discover their name has already been registered by someone else as an Internet address. The people who register the rights to common names and trademarks, known as cybersquatters, typically ask for money before they will release the names.

Under the resolution-dispute policy, three elements have to be proved in order for the case to be eligible for arbitration, said Curtis Brown, general counsel for the National Arbitration Forum. The parties must show that the name in question is a trademark or copyright, that the person who registered the name has no legal right to it and that the holder of the name registered it in bad faith, Brown said.

Forum arbitrators will review cases and issue decisions within 45 days, according to a release issued today by the National Arbitration Forum. ICANN will honor the decision of the arbitrator unless the losing party chooses to bring an action in court within 10 days, Brown said.

The arbitrators for Internet domain name disputes have a minimum of 15 years legal experience and substantial dispute resolution or trial experience. The National Arbitration Forum has about 1,000 arbitrators; 60 have been designated to hear cybersquatting cases and all are retired judges, Brown said.

The arbitration process offers a means of resolving cybersquatting cases beyond a recent US law that outlaws cybersquatting, a spokeswoman for ICANN said. If a case involves more than one country, for example, the arbitration process can be used. The rules also stipulate that nothing happens to the domain name while the dispute is pending.

In a separate announcement yesterday ICANN said its next round of meetings will be held in Cairo. The preliminary agenda for the public forum during the March 7-10 meeting includes discussion of policies relating to the creation of new top-level domain name registries and at-large membership and elections.

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