Mediating Domain Name Disputes in California

Although the Internet and its associated technologies may at first seem complex, particularly to a non-technical person, many aspects of the internet have been simplified and abstracted to the point where they are quite easy. For example, domain registration requires only that you have a name in mind and a way to make the modest payment. For a very small sum of money, you can lay claim to some virtual Internet real estate, and this means that inevitably domain name disputes in California are very common.

Basis for Dispute

Sometimes domain name disputes in California are honest disputes: Two companies or individuals with similar ideas, or disparate reasons to desire the same URL. Sometimes, however, domain names are registered in bad faith, with the intention of holding the URL hostage for a large sum of money (cybersquatting). Since domain names can be registered for very small sums of money, it can be very profitable.

Solutions

There are three ways of handling domain name disputes in California:

  1. Negotiation. If the dispute is an honest one, it is possible the other party will be amenable to selling the domain name for a fair price or other arrangement.
  2. Litigation or complaint to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), often a slow-moving and expensive choice that does not provide an efficient solution.
  3. Mediation. Mediation in domain disputes, when conducted by a knowledgeable professional familiar with the law, the policies and procedures of ICANN, and the technical aspects, can be very effective in cases of both legitimate dispute and so-called “cybersquatting.”

A domain name is a crucial aspect of a business’s marketing and online branding, and as such it is crucial that disputes over domain names be handled correctly, applying the most effective strategy.