Domain name dispute court now in session

The Canadian Internet Registration Authority announced on Tuesday the names of the companies responsible for settling domain name disputes, but their decisions aren’t legally binding.

Resolution Canada Inc. in Don Mills, Ont. and Vancouver-based British Columbia International Commercial Arbitration Centre (BCICAC) have been mandated by CIRA to try and resolve cyber-squatting cases involving the dot-ca name. CIRA wrote its domain name dispute resolution policy last year and invited the industry to comment while it chose service providers to resolve disputes. Under the CIRA policy, a period of 60 days is allowed before it would take any action on a ruling. Cases will be abitrated by a three-person panel from one of the two firms, whose members would be jointly chosen by the complaintant and registrant.

“”These dispute resolution providers are responsible for administering the entire process,”” says CIRA spokesperson Gabriel Ahad. “”CIRA does not receive payment or participate in the dispute resolution process. CIRA sets the rules and the policies that are then administered by service providers.””

Ahad says the costs of pursuing a domain name dispute are expected to cost between $1,750 and $6,400 and could take as many as 120 days to complete, but CIRA isn’t expecting either firm to be flooded with cases. He says while there are 20 million dot-com domain names, there are only 300,000 dot-ca names registered. Combined with Canadian presence requirements, many companies don’t have a leg to stand on, he adds.

“”It narrows the possible number of disputes that can arise, because all of sudden you don’t have 37 firms from around the world that want to use Technically, only the ones that are in Canada that want to use can initiate a dispute under the terms of this policy,”” Ahad says.

“”It’s important to note this process doesn’t replace the law of the land; it does not substitute courts. Companies are still free to go to court if they wish to do so.””

Executive director for BCICAC Peter Grove says he’s aware the rulings aren’t legally binding, but he said he believes people will pursue action outside the courts for two reasons: the court process is very long and very expensive.””This is an efficient process and the results, I suspect, would be what you’d probably end up in court with anyway,”” he says.

While it is new to the domain name dispute business, Grove says his not-for-profit firm is up to the task, having been an administrator of commercial mediations and involved in other arbitration business since 1986. French cases will be handled by it partner le Centre d’arbitrage commercial national et international du Quebec.

The two groups also won’t have anything to do with the tumult arising from controversies like VeriSign’s recent customer drive. The Mountain View, Calif.-based registar recently agreed to stop sending misleading renewal notices to customers of other registrars. Ahad says this is a registration transfer issue, not a domain name use issue.

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