Domain name dispute resolution is the process that a party must go through to attempt to acquire a trademark protected domain name from another party to whom the domain name is currently registered. The process is one that includes the current registrant, the party claiming a priority to the domain name and the registrar. The registrar is the company authorized by Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) to register domain names.
There is a Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy developed by ICANN that must be used by all registrars to settle disputes between parties. This policy is included in the contract between the registrar and all registrants so that all domain name dispute resolution processes proceed according to the same regulations. As part of the policy, a registrant must affirm that his use of a specific domain name does not infringe upon or violate another party’s rights.
Once a party claims that another party is either infringing upon or violating his rights, the offended party might begin the domain name dispute resolution process with an approved administrative panel that provides dispute resolution services. The party who is complaining of such an infringement or violation might also go directly to a court in his jurisdiction to dispute the domain name's use. Once either the administrative panel completes its hearing or a court makes a decision, the decision making body provides notice to the register as to the decision.
If the decision making body determines as part of its domain name dispute resolution process that the party filing the complaint has been wronged by the registrant, the decision maker will take the right to use the domain name away from the registrant. The winning party in the decision is granted the right to use the domain name. The register is informed which party has received the rights to use the domain name, and at that time, the register is authorized to make changes to the designated owner of the domain name.
Generally speaking, individuals may represent themselves in front of the administrative panel hearing domain name dispute resolution cases. If the case is put in front of a court rather than the administrative panel, each party should consider acquiring legal counsel. Most parties prefer to work with an administrative panel rather than going to a court for a decision. More often than not, the cases that end up in court involve a valuable trade name or trademark.