Cybersquatting Already a Problem for Major Brands on the New Irish ccTLD (.ie)

July 12th, 2010

The head of Ireland’s IE Domain Registry (IEDR), David Curtin, gave copyright and trademark owners a heads up that they may have to defend their brands on Ireland’s .ie new country code Top Level Domain (ccTLD).

.ie domains for major brands including; police.ie, british.ie, look.ie, ipod.ie, adidas.ie, nike.ie and bebo.ie, were registered by individuals suspected of cyber-squatting.

This is somewhat surprising because the IEDR is supposedly a ‘managed registry’, that will not grant .ie domains to applicants unless that applicant is a registered company or can otherwise prove its ownership over the name. An applicant is able to prove this to the IEDR by supporting their application with a valid Irish registered business number (RBN) which can be obtained from the Companies Registration Office (CRO).

However, the CRO’s RBN system may need a re-looking at. Curtin noted of the .ie major brand name domains in question that, “their application to us was supported by a valid registered business number (RBN) that they attained from the CRO. If they have an RBN it means they have a valid registered business name and are in accordance with our rules.”

Curtin also expressed his concern over the registration of these high profile .ie domains;

“Yes, it is true that there’s a small number of instances where high-profile names have been registered. Yes, we are concerned. We were concerned enough about it to contact the Companies Registrations Office (CRO) and we have written to APTMA (the Patent Attorneys Association) highlighting the issue and asking them to be vigilant and inform their clients who may not have taken the precaution of registering the internet addresses concerned.”

Despite highlighting the apparent cyber-squatting problem, there doesn’t appear to be any special remedy available to brand owners wishing to protect their name on Ireland’s new ccTLD. Curtin reiterated CRO’s response to inquiries over what conditions apply to a granting of a RBN and what remedies are available to affected brand owners;

“They must have a business address in Ireland and this condition appears to have been met. The CRO’s official position is that it is a matter for the patent holder or trademark holder and the remedy is the civil courts. There is also the option of dispute resolution adjudicated by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).”

Michele Neylon from Blacknight Solutions, a collection of brand-protection specialists, analogized the CRO’s policy of awarding a RBN;

“Under the current rules, a registered business name is a claim to a domain name. However, if I was running a sportshop and happened to be reselling Adidas gear, it means I have an entitlement to an Adidas-related name.”

For more information on Ireland’s new ccTLD (.ie) check these;

Ireland’s Domain Registry

IEDR suspects high number of Irish .eu cyber-squatters

Allegations of .ie cybersquatting