Leave a message

24 hours a day, 7 days a week
from a mobile 0333 577 8866

Not sure what you need? Request a callback
Full Name *
Contact Number *
How Can We Help?
Best Callback Time?

24 hours a day, 7 days a week
from a mobile 0333 577 8866

Close
Not sure what you need? Request a callback
Full Name *
Contact Number *
How Can We Help?
Best Callback Time?

How to dispute domain name ownership

man and women working at desk

When it comes to your company website, having a recognisable domain name (the bit that comes after the 'www.') can help you to establish an identity and help customers trust your brand. However, the large and changing nature of the internet means that sometimes there can be issues over who has the right to use certain domain names.

It could be that someone is using a domain name like yours and it's having an impact on your business. Or someone could raise issue with a name that you’ve chosen. Either way, resolving a UDRP complaint (Uniform Domain-Name Dispute Resolution Policy) can be a confusing and time-consuming process.

The exact steps to dispute domain name ownership depend on your particular situation but, in general, you need to:

  1. Lodge a complaint through the 'complaints' section of the website.
  2. Wait for a response from the other party.
  3. Use the (often free) mediation service to try to resolve the issue.

Because everyone's circumstances are unique, it's a good idea to seek professional advice to learn what the best procedure is to resolve a domain name dispute.

Our expert solicitors will be able to guide you through the process and help you decide the best way to proceed with your domain name complaint - get in touch for more information.

Here, you can learn what you need to keep in mind when raising a UDRP dispute.

Who has the right to a domain name?

Domain name ownership is a tricky area, as there are all kinds of different domain name providers responsible for different extensions (i.e. '.com', '.co.uk', '.email'). Because of this, there's no universal regulation about domain name rights. Instead, most providers operate on a 'first-come-first-served' basis.

When buying a domain name for your business, you might want to get variations of the name across different extensions, to avoid issues with people using a similar address in the future.

But, sometimes this can't be avoided and you might find out that someone has a domain name that's very like yours. If it is having a negative impact on your business, you may be able to raise a dispute and stop them from using it.

What you need to dispute domain name ownership

Each domain name provider has a different UDRP process for resolving domain name disputes. But most will want the same sort of evidence to stop the other person from using their domain name. To be successful, you'll usually need to prove two things:

  1. You have a right to the domain name

If you have trade marked the words in the URL, it's much easier to show you have a right to the domain name under intellectual property law - our guide about how to trade mark a company name and logo shows how this can benefit your business.

Even if you don't, you may still be able to prove they are breaching your rights if you have proof you've used the domain publicly, over time, and that it's strongly associated with your brand identity.

  1. The other party is using the domain name in 'bad faith'

Most of the time, it's not enough to show you have a right to the domain name - you must also prove the person who owns it is using it to negatively impact your business. While this will be different depending on circumstances, it could be:

  • They've bought it with the sole intention of selling it to you or your competitors for a profit.
  • They're trying to pass off their business as being closely related to your own, potentially to poach your customers.
  • They're trying to disrupt your business and confuse your customers.
  • They're libelling you - publishing things that hurt your reputation.

It can also make your case easier if you can prove you had a right to the domain name when it was registered and today. This can suggest the other party bought it, fully knowing it was associated with your business, and so had negative intentions.

The domain name dispute process

The steps in the UDRP process will vary, depending on the organisation that regulates the domain names, so it's important to check the guidance on the provider's website. However, typically you can:

  1. Lodge a complaint through the 'complaints' section of the website.
  2. Wait for a response from the other party.
  3. Use the (often free) mediation service to try to resolve the issue.

If this doesn't work, or if the other party doesn't respond to the complaint, you may have the option to pay for an expert decision. Depending on the circumstances, this can cost anywhere from £200 to upwards of £750. If you're still not happy with the expert's decision, you can appeal to raise the dispute to a board of experts - this can cost around £3,000.

Alternatively, if you believe you have been libelled or your intellectual property rights have been impacted, you may be able to take the issue to court.

It can be very difficult to prove domain name ownership rights, and the process can be costly. Before taking action, think about speaking to a professional solicitor. They can help you to decide on the best steps and work toward solving your domain name issue.

Note: First4lawyers offers this information as guidance, not advice. Before taking any action, you should seek professional assistance tailored to your personal circumstances and not rely on First4lawyers’ online information alone.