Domain name disputes

General principle

It is possible that a domain name may be registered that conflicts with certain rights of a third party.

The registration of domain names takes place on the general principle of "first come, first served". Consequently, it makes no assessment of any rights that the applicant may or may not have over a similar domain name. Nor does it rule on the suitability of the domain name for the intended purpose. It is the registrant who bears total responsibility for the use made of the domain name and the content of any website linked to the domain name.

The content-related examination of actual disputes arising from the registration or use of a domain name must be ruled on by the relevant government bodies with jurisdiction. Which is why the general terms and conditions that apply to all .be registrants state that "All other disputes between the domain name holder and any party other than DNS Belgium over the domain name registration must be resolved through any court proceedings, arbitration or other available proceedings". Similar statements are included in the terms and conditions for registrants of .vlaanderen or .brussels domain names.

When settling a domain name dispute, the rights of the parties have to be evaluated with respect to content (for example: does the complainant have intellectual rights to a particular domain name? Is there misuse of the trading name or personal name of the complainant and so on). Such evaluations come under the sole authority of the courts or accredited bodies for dispute settlement and do not come under the jurisdiction of DNS Belgium.

What should be done in the event of a domain name dispute?

In the event of a dispute about domain names, we recommend to come to an amicable agreement with the other party by urging the other party to transfer the domain name and to do so by setting the details of the transfer down in a written agreement. It is also possible that the registrant may ask for a specific amount of money for the transfer of the domain name to take place. This may indicate that the domain name has actually been registered illegitimately, but it depends on individual circumstances. In itself, asking for an amount of money for the transfer of the domain name is not unlawful.
Based on the transfer agreement, the domain name can be transferred to the party taking on the domain name. The registrar selected by the latter will do so using the existing procedure.

However, if the current registrant emphatically refuses to go ahead with the amicable transfer of the domain name, consideration can be given to undertaking procedural measures. If that is the case, there is a difference between the procedure for .be domain names, and the procedure for .vlaanderen or .brussels domain names.

Procedures available to .be domain names

If you are convinced that your rights have been violated as a result of the registration of a certain .be domain name, you can bring the case to an authorised judge or the Belgian Centre for Arbitration and Mediation (CEPINA).

The two possible procedures are:

  • Procedure on the grounds of the Procedure Act governing the unlawful registration of domain names, passed on 26th June 2003.
  • The Alternative Dispute Resolution procedure (ADR for short) with CEPINA, the Belgian Centre for Arbitration and Mediation.

Procedures avaliable to .vlaanderen or .brussels domain names

If you are convinced that your rights have been violated as a result of the registration of a certain .vlaanderen or .brussels domain name, you can bring the case to an authorised judge (if the domain name holder has a residence or an establishment in Belgium) or one of the ICANN-approved UDRP providers.

The two possible procedures are:

  • Procedure on the grounds of the Procedure Act governing the unlawful registration of domain names, passed on 26th June 2003.
  • The alternative procedure (Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy, or UDRP for short) with one of the ICANN-approved UDRP providers.

ICANN

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, a non-profit organisation that is responsible worldwide for managing domain names.

registrar

Is the entity that registers a domain name for a company, organization or person. Next to the “resale” of web addresses registrars can also offer hosting services, web design... 

registrant

Domain owner, person who holds a domain name.

DNS

Domain Name System or Domain Name Server. The global DNS is the system and protocol used on the internet to translate domain names into IP addresses and vice versa. 

CEPINA

The Belgian Centre for Arbitration and Mediation. Working in conjunction with CEPINA, DNS Belgium has developed an Alternative Dispute Resolution procedure (ADR) to deal with disputes relating to .be domain names.

UDRP

Uniform domain name dispute resolution policy. Years ago, ICANN, the international caretaker of the DNS, developed an alternative dispute resolution policy (UDRP) for the resolution domain name disputes in the so called gTLDs. These are TLD zones of a generic nature, such as .com, .org and .net.

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