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Arbitration cases involving allegations of cybersquatting, or improper use of trademarks in Internet domain-name registrations, hit record levels last year at the two organizations that handle most of the disputes. The National Arbitration Forum reported a 24% spike in new domain name dispute filings in 2010 to 2,177, up from 1,759 cases in 2009 and up 23% from the 1,770 cases filed in 2008. Much of the spike is driven by the “sheer volumetric increase in the number of domain names being registered,” said Kristine Dorrain, the forum’s Internet legal counsel. “The fact that the number of registrations continue to grow, means the number of disputes are going to continue to grow,” Dorrain said. The World Intellectual Property Organization reported 2,696 new case filings–a 28% spike over the 2,107 cases filed in 2009. Last year’s case filings also exceeded 2008 filings by 16%. That year’s 2,329 set the previous record for new WIPO cases. “The WIPO Center is the leading provider of domain name dispute services and provides a rich range of resources for users and the general public,” stated Francis Gurry, director general of the Geneva-based WIPO, in a press release. The economic recovery appears to be driving the upswing in cybersquatting cases, said Jed Wakefield, a San Francisco partner who chairs the trademark litigation group at Fenwick & West in Mountain View, Calif. “A lot of companies now have the budget to enforce [violations] where they might have been holding off in the past,” Wakefield said. Cybersquatting can take many forms, including so-called typosquatting–registering misspelled versions of well-known Internet sites or brand names to capture Web traffic and revenue when Internet users search for those sites and band names on their Web browsers. Sheri Qualters can be contacted at [email protected].

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