Cybersquatting - it's all in a name

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 16 June, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 16 June, 2007, 12:00am

Online businesses face a major problem in cybersquatting - the act of registering a domain name in bad faith, often with a view to cashing in on a genuine trademark.

The situation is rampant in the mainland with foreign enterprises turning to the China International Economic and Trade Arbitration Commission when Chinese-character versions of their trademarks have been registered with a view to imitating the brand or selling the domain for a large fee.

Lawyers have come across Chinese-character domain names like 'Pepsi' registered as 'Baishi', and 'Dulux' as 'Duoleshi'.

The Asian Domain Name Dispute Resolution Centre is one of only four providers in the world and the first and only to be located in Asia.

'Hong Kong is increasingly recognised as the IP hub of Asia,' Christopher To Wing said. 'We are bringing in other Asian organisations to form a uniform set of rules. Domain name issues can be resolved in a short period of time and in an economical fashion. If it's taken to court, it would be relatively more costly and involve choosing a neutral jurisdiction acceptable by the parties. That's why most law firms are pushing this forward.'

Gary Soo, who handled 20 such cases last year, said disputes concerning the '.cn' ending were 'increasing dramatically with their growing commercial values'.

'For these kind of disputes I see arbitration as the perfect model as a dispute resolution mechanism. It is efficient as all proceedings are carried out online based on documents and charged for a fixed fee. It's effective with a definite decision that can be enforced.'