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BOSTON � Internet domain-name arbitration disputes have risen by more than a quarter since January 2005 � despite the expansion of generic top-level domain addresses like .biz and .info � as cybersquatters find more sophisticated ways of encroaching on legitimate Web sites. The Minneapolis-based National Arbitration Forum reported a 25 percent hike in domain name-related disputes it administered in 2005. The World Intellectual Property Organization, which handles about half of such disputes, experienced a 24 percent jump in cases filed to 1,457 in 2005. For the first six months of this year, 900 cases were filed with WIPO. Complainants can choose an organization to handle their domain-name disputes. The two providers that handle the vast majority of cases are WIPO and NAF. Typosquatting, a form of cybersquatting that involves capturing another company’s Web traffic by registering misspelled versions of a well-known Internet site or brand name, is driving much of the growth in domain-name disputes, according to intellectual property lawyers. Typosquatters collect revenue when Internet users click onto advertising links posted on their Web sites. But trademark owners are fighting back by arbitrating domain-name disputes with the the NAF and WIPO, said Paul McGrady Jr. in Greenberg Traurig’s Chicago office. Although domain-name disputes can be litigated, domain owners typically opt for arbitration because it’s less expensive and often quicker than litigation, he said. “In the last year or so, Internet-related complaints have heated back up in a significant way,” McGrady said. The Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act of 1999 curbed much of the traditional cybersquatting, which involved buying domain names that trademarked holders were likely to want and offering to sell them for an exorbitant fee. Domain-name disputes dipped following the passage of the law in the early part of the decade, but are again on the upswing, according to data from the NAF and WIPO. Typosquatters and other bad actors have an easy way to identify lucrative Web sites, since current rules allow users to cancel a domain-name registration within five days without paying a fee, said Michael Palage, an intellectual property attorney and information technology consultant in Tequesta, Fla. “They’re registering upwards of hundreds of thousands of names, to see what type of traffic they gather,” Palage said. The arbitration process starts when complainants ask for a domain-name cancellation or transfer on the grounds that their intellectual property rights have been violated in bad faith, McGrady said. Respondents have the opportunity to mount defenses such as that they’re using the domain name for a legitimate business purpose and they had no notice of a problem from the complainant. Economic damages are not available. The arbitration process is typically resolved within a few months from the first filing. Arbitration fees start at about $1,300 when one domain name is in dispute and one panelist handles the case, McGrady said. Sheri Qualters is a reporter with The National Law Journal, a Recorder affiliate based in New York City.

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