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UN agency calls for tougher rules to prevent cybersquatting

Warwick Ashford

The United Nations has warned that planned new top-level web domain (TLD) names could cause trademark wars and other problems without stringent controls to prevent abuse.

Specialised UN agency, the World Intellectual Property Organisation (Wipo), has expressed its concerns to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (Icann).

Wipo has warned that Icann's plans to allow organisations to create their own TLDs will make the task of monitoring trademark abuse "nearly unmanageable", the

Financial Times reports.

The plan will greatly increase the current list of 21 TLDs, which include .com, .net and .org, later this year to include more individualised domains using company names or other trademarks.

This will make it even easier for cybersquatters to register domains to profit from other people's trademarks or hold them to ransom, according to Francis Gurry, Wipo director general.

Tom Scourfield, a lawyer at CMS Cameron McKenna, said domain name proliferation could increase the number of expensive legal disputes if several companies or organisations laid claim to the same name.

He said the coming domain name expansion would make it more important than ever for trademark owners to have a clear brand protection strategy.

Icann has agreed that the UN agency will deal with challenges by trademark holders to proposals for new TLDs, but Wipo wants stronger rules to govern domain registrars.

Wipo wants sanctions to discourage registrars from knowingly registering web addresses that violate trademark rights or failing to put in place reasonable procedures for protecting such rights.

Sanctions for breaching the rules could include injunctions to cease registrations of particular names or the cancellation of the registrar's contract with Icann.


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