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Abusive registration

The Dispute Resolution Service (DRS) Policy requires complainants to prove that the domain name, in the hands of the current registrant, is an abusive registration. In order to show that the domain name is an abusive registration, the complainant must prove that the domain name either:

  • took unfair advantage of or was unfairly detrimental to their rights at the time of registration or acquisition; or
  • has been used in a manner which took unfair advantage of or was unfairly detrimental to their rights

This means that the unfair conduct can occur at any point during the lifetime of the domain name registration, from registration onwards. It is not a requirement of the DRS that both the registration and use of the domain name be unfair.

There are situations in which it is clear that the registration was 'fair' (because the parties agreed at the time, or did not object) but the use later becomes unfair (because there is a change of use, a falling out between the parties, or a change of motive).

There can also be situations where it is difficult to know what the registrant had in mind at the time of registration, but their later use is clearly 'unfair'. This can be dealt with by inferring that the 'unfair' motive existed at the start, or simply by dealing with the 'unfair' activity when it happens.

It’s important to note that the unfair use of domain names under the DRS covers any type of use, from use for a website to use for email.

Examples of Abusive Registrations

The DRS Policy sets out a number of examples of what constitutes an abusive registration including:

  • The domain name was registered with the primary purpose of selling or renting it to the complainant (or a competitor) for more than the respondent paid for it
  • The domain name was registered with the primary purpose of stopping the complainant from using it
  • The domain name was registered with the primary purpose of disrupting the complainant’s business
  • The domain name has been used to confuse Internet users

This list is not exhaustive and a complainant may try to claim that the registration or use was abusive for another reason.

Evidence that a registration is not abusive

The DRS Policy also gives some examples of factors which may indicate that the registration is not abusive, including:

  • The respondent can show that they have made preparations to use the domain name for a legitimate business
  • The domain name is generic or descriptive and is being used fairly
  • The domain name is being used purely for tribute or criticism

Again, this list is not exhaustive and respondents may raise other arguments in their defence.

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