1. What is a “domain name”?
The Internet connects many and various websites together. When we enter the name of a website on our computer's browser, colorful website pages will immediately appear in front of us. The website name we enter on the browser is commonly known as the "domain name". On the Internet, each domain name corresponds to the IP address of a host. The IP address is a 32-bit binary number divided into 4 bytes. It is usually represented by 4 decimal numbers. The value range of each decimal number is 0-255, separated by dots. For example, represents the IP address of a certain host on the Internet. When we surf the Internet, we enter the domain name of the website in the browser, and then use the domain name resolution mechanism to convert the domain name into the corresponding IP address, which can point to the host to be accessed, thereby accessing the website content stored on the host.
The domain name was originally composed of some simple, non-hierarchical description characters that identify objects, without any further meaning or structure. However, with the rapid growth of INTERNET users, the management of domain names has become increasingly complex. Under this situation, the managers of INTERNET decided to develop a domain name resolution mechanism called Domain Name System (DNS) in 1983, which stipulated that the domain name of each host should be composed of three levels and four parts, and the total length should not exceed 254 characters. characters,. From right to left, the first level of the domain name indicates the country, such as. JP stands for Japan, (the first level of domain names registered in the United States is omitted, which is usually referred to as international domain names). The second level of the domain name indicates the nature of the website, such as. COM means company. ORG stands for non-profit organization. The third level of the domain name is created and used by the domain name owner, often using the company or institution's own product trademark, service trademark, company name or individual name. This first-level domain name is the core component that distinguishes a domain name from other domain names. It is the fruitful part of a domain name that is rich in intellectual activities. It is also the most direct object of the domain name dispute discussed later.
From the above introduction to domain names, we can see that domain names have the following three characteristics:
(1) Global. The Internet has global characteristics and is not exclusive to a certain region, country or institution. Therefore, the global nature of domain names is absolute and is determined by its own uses and characteristics. It is precisely because domain names are absolute on a global scale that they have regional characteristics that are different from trademarks.
(2) Regularity. A domain name is composed of English letters, Arabic numerals, connectors, and real dots. However, these elements are not arranged in a haphazard manner, but are combined according to the Domain Name System (DNS).
(3) Identity. The identification of domain names is based on the role of domain names, that is, domain names have the function of distinguishing different institutions and organizations on the Internet. However, the identity of a domain name and the distinctiveness of a trademark are two different concepts. Their difference is mainly reflected in the difference in degree. The latter requires much higher recognition than the latter. For domain names, as long as they are not exactly the same, even if they are slightly different, they are two different domain names.
2. The origin of the domain name dispute
IANA is the authoritative organization of the INTERNET domain name system and holds absolute power in the design, maintenance and allocation of address resources of the INTERNET domain name system. Under IANA, there are three branches responsible for the allocation and management of IP address resources in Europe, Asia-Pacific, the United States and other regions. In addition, many countries and regions have established their own domain name system management agencies, which are responsible for the allocation and management of IP address resources obtained from the three agencies in their own countries or regions.  At the request of the Clinton administration, with the coordination of the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC), IANA, NSI (Network Solutions, Inc.) and other agencies, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) was established in 1998 It was formally established in October 1998 and officially began to accept domain name registration services in November 1998. ICANN represents the private sector and will gradually take over NSI, responsible for the suffix. com,. Registration and management services for international domain names such as org.
ICANN's domain name management policy and the "Interim Measures for the Administration of Internet Domain Name Registration in China" implement the "application first" principle for domain name registration. The applicant shall guarantee the authenticity of the materials provided for the domain name application and ensure that the registration is applied for. The domain name does not infringe on the legitimate rights and interests of any third party. The domain name registration authority does not conduct a substantive review of the applicant's statement. As long as the applicant's application materials meet some formal and procedural requirements, the management authority will approve the applicant's domain name registration application. , the domain name can be put into operation. Article 11 of the "Interim Measures for the Registration of Internet Domain Names in China" stipulates: Restrictive principles for naming domain names below the third level (including third level), item (4) of which is "Industry names or common names of goods shall not be used", Article 1 Item (5) is "You are not allowed to use other people's business names or trademark names that have been registered in China." Article 15 stipulates: To apply for domain name registration, you should submit: domain name registration application form, unit introduction letter, copy of the organizer's ID card and copy of the unit's legal registration documents. Article 19 stipulates: Applicants have the following responsibilities when applying for registration: (1) Comply with my country’s relevant laws and regulations on the Internet; (2) Be responsible for the domain name they choose; (3) Applicants should ensure the content of their application documents The authenticity of the domain name, and to the extent the applicant understands, ensures that the registration of the domain name selected will not infringe the interests of any third party; the applicant shall ensure that the registration of the domain name is not for any illegal purpose. Article 23 stipulates: Domain name management units at all levels are not responsible for checking with the national industrial and commercial administration department and trademark management department whether a user's domain name conflicts with a registered trademark or company name, or whether it infringes upon the rights and interests of a third party. It can be seen from the above regulations that since CNNIC does not conduct, and in fact cannot conduct, substantive review of domain name applications, it only requires the applicant to provide proof of identity and approves the applicant's domain name registration based on the applicant's guarantee. Therefore, , it is inevitable that a large number of registered domain names conflict with other people's registered trademarks and business names, resulting in various types of domain name disputes.
3. Legal practice of domain name disputes
In recent years, disputes over domain names have been increasing. Many companies’ trademarks or company names have been registered as domain names on the Internet, preventing companies from using their trademarks or names to enter the international Internet. There are even phenomena where some organizations or individuals register domain names with corporate trademarks or factory names first, and then ask for high prices from the companies to transfer or license the companies to use their corporate trademarks or manufacturer names as registered domain names. How to define the legal nature of various disputes arising from the use of domain names? Who infringes the rights? What rights were violated? What laws apply? All are issues that urgently need to be resolved. The following are typical cases of domain name disputes in some countries in recent years, from which we can see the different understandings of the judicial circles in various countries on this issue:
Case 1: In the Intermatic case in early 1997, the U.S. court held that the defendant’s preemptive registration of well-known trademarks as domain names would force many people to be unable to use their well-known trademarks to create business opportunities in emerging and important online media, greatly reducing the It reduces the advertising value of the trademark name, leads to confusion and misunderstanding among consumers, violates the U.S. Federal Trademark Anti-Dilution Act, and constitutes an infringement of the distinctiveness of a well-known trademark. The U.S. Federal Trademark Anti-Dilination Act defines “dilution” as “the act of reducing or weakening the ability of a well-known trademark to identify or distinguish its mark or service.
Case 2: The British company Harrords accused Michael Lawrie of conspiring with the British domain name management unit Nominet UK to preemptively register the domain name, infringing the plaintiff's exclusive trademark rights. The British court ruled in the Harrods case that the defendant's use of a squatted domain name to promote the same goods as the plaintiff constituted "trademark infringement" and ruled to revoke the squatter's domain name registration.
The above two British and American cases have determined that the defendant's behavior of snatching the registered domain name infringes the plaintiff's "exclusive right to trademark", and the trademark law should be adjusted to revoke the defendant's pre-registered domain name.
Case 3: In March 1997, Shijiazhuang Flanders Development Co., Ltd. (plaintiff), a subsidiary of Beijing Little Secretary Group, applied to register the PDA trademark. In October 1998, Beijing Mitian Jiaye Technology and Trading Co., Ltd. (the defendant) applied to register the domain name The plaintiff believed that its exclusive right to use the pda trademark had been infringed and sued the court. This case mainly involves three issues, namely whether the defendant's act of registering the plaintiff's trademark as a domain name constitutes an infringement of the exclusive right to register a trademark; what legal adjustments should be applied to the preemptive registration of domain names; and how to determine the effectiveness of domain name management measures. The court held that the plaintiff’s trademark was a product trademark. According to Article 38 of the Trademark Law and Article 41 of the Implementing Rules of the Trademark Law, the act of registering the defendant pda as a domain name did not constitute infringement of the use of the trademark on the same or similar products. Behavior; regarding the issue of legal adjustment, since this kind of behavior fundamentally violates the principle of good faith, it should fall within the scope of the Anti-Unfair Competition Law. However, just the fact that the domain name and the trademark mark are the same does not necessarily constitute infringement. The rights holder also needs to prove that his product trademark is a well-known trademark. Regarding the validity of the domain name management measures, the court held that the measures are departmental regulations and should be effective when the domain name registration management unit handles this dispute. Specifically, whether it constitutes infringement in civil litigation should still be judged according to relevant laws.
The above judgment did not conclude that registering someone else’s registered trademark as a domain name does not constitute infringement. It only limited the conditions for such infringement to a certain extent, that is, only registering someone else’s well-known registered trademark as a domain name constitutes infringement. This judgment is consistent with the spirit of the U.S. court’s judgment in Case 1, which comes from the special protection system for well-known trademarks under international conventions and national trademark laws. There is no express provision in my country’s current Trademark Law that prohibits the dilution of other people’s trademarks. However, Article 38 of the Trademark Law points out that causing other damage to the exclusive right to use a registered trademark of others is also an infringement of the exclusive right to use a registered trademark. This legal provision can be used to stop domain name squatting. At the same time, the judgment also held that in addition to infringement of well-known trademarks, the act of registering another person's registered trademark as a domain name can be determined as an act of unfair competition based on the Anti-Unfair Competition Law, and one shall bear legal liability in accordance with the law. Article 5 of my country’s Anti-Unfair Competition Law stipulates that operators shall not use unfair means to engage in market transactions or harm competitors. Article 9 stipulates that operators shall not use advertising or other methods to make misleading and false propaganda about the producer and origin of goods. Therefore, those who use the name or registered trademark of another company as their own domain name on the Internet and perform actions that are detrimental to others shall bear legal liability for engaging in unfair competition. my country's industrial and commercial administration department has also publicly stated that since the current registration procedures for Chinese domain names do not review the qualifications of enterprises and do not consider the protection of relevant intellectual property rights in the tangible market, they do not recognize Chinese domain names as a type of intellectual property rights. It does not provide any protection for the various rights involved in Chinese domain names. If you register someone else's business name, unit name, trademark and well-known website name in CNNIC or NSI as your own domain name through squatting, or use the registered Chinese domain name to conduct misleading and false propaganda, use other people's businesses without authorization If you use the name, font size, registered trademark and registered website name to carry out business activities, including renting and selling domain names, the industrial and commercial authorities will investigate and deal with them in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Advertising Law and the Anti-Unfair Competition Law. Although my country's judicial and administrative law enforcement departments tend to apply the principle of good faith in the General Principles of Civil Law and the relevant provisions of the Anti-Unfair Competition Law, after all, these legal provisions do not clearly provide for domain names, so their application is a bit far-fetched and is a last resort. As a temporary solution, with the widespread spread of the Internet, domain name disputes have gradually increased, and it is necessary to formulate special domain name regulations to adjust and standardize domain name relationships.
In addition to using a registered trademark to register a domain name, which constitutes an infringement of the legitimate rights and interests of others, the act of using another person's business name or using a personal name as a domain name to register will also bear legal responsibility for impersonating other people's business names or infringing on other people's reputation rights. Article 1 of the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property clearly stipulates that the name of a manufacturer is an object of protection of industrial property rights. Article 99 of my country’s General Principles of Civil Law stipulates that citizens enjoy the right to name, and legal persons, individual industrial and commercial households, and individuals legally enjoy the right to name. American entertainment star Madonna discovered that her name had been stolen by a New York "cyber pirate" Barris and established a website called However, this website did not introduce Madonna's music works or life profile of the pop queen at all, but A genuine porn website. Madonna filed a complaint with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Arbitration and Mediation Center in July 2000. The three-member arbitration panel ruled that Barris had a bad motive for misappropriating Madonna's name to set up the website, and therefore the rights to use the name must be returned to the name owner, Madonna. The arbitration panel's investigation also found that Barris not only misappropriated Madonna's name, but also misappropriated the "Wall Street Journal" to establish his own website However, the veteran British rock singer Sting was not as lucky as Madonna. His name was also misappropriated by an American to establish a website. However, after consideration, the WIPO arbitration panel ruled last month that, " sting" is a "very common English word", so Sting has no right to claim back his domain name of the same name.
4. Domain name protection
Most scholars believe that the formation of a domain name requires a certain amount of creative labor to make the domain name unique and play an iconic role. Therefore, domain names, like trademarks, patents, and works, are the fruits of people's intellectual labor and should become the object of intellectual property rights. The World Intellectual Property Organization's definition of intellectual property is open and includes "all other rights arising from intellectual creative activities in the fields of industry, science, literature and art." Naturally, it should also include the rights people enjoy in domain names. area 

The subject of the name right is the domain name registrant, and the object is the registered domain name. The content of the right is to use the domain name on the Internet and other occasions, or to allow others to use the domain name, or to transfer the domain name. Domain name rights arise from registration and can also be obtained through transfer. Due to the nature of domain names on the Internet, domain names can only be used exclusively by the domain name holder from the date of registration. It is impossible for others to use the domain name without the consent of the right holder. Therefore, domain names are not like trademarks and patents. In that case, there is a problem of infringement by unauthorized use by a third party. The cases related to domain name disputes mentioned earlier are actually disputes over registered domain names that infringe on others' trademark rights, trade name rights, personal reputation rights, and unfair competition that infringes on others' legitimate business rights. These so-called "domain name disputes" do not refer to It is a dispute between domain names, but a dispute about whether the act of registering a domain name constitutes infringement. In most cases, the domain name infringes upon the trademark right. However, is there any situation where trademarks, trade names and other rights infringe domain name rights? Please look at a case like this: In May 1997, Suzhou Yilong Electronics Co., Ltd. applied for the Yahoo trademark on televisions, semiconductors and other products. After the National Trademark Office made preliminary recognition, it published an announcement. Yahoo! USA filed an objection with the National Trademark Office during the objection period, claiming that "Yahoo" was originally created based on the pronunciation of YAHOO on the company's website and was well known to the society. Suzhou Yilong Company's registration application should not be approved. In response to this, Suzhou Yilong Company's defense stated that Suzhou "Yahoo" was named after Tang Bohu, a native of Suzhou in the Ming Dynasty. "Because of his elegance and grace, people at that time called him Yahoo." Moreover, Yilong Company has applied for the "Yahoo" trademark first. In 1998, the State Trademark Office ruled that Yahoo's objection was invalid. In this case, the goods using the trademark of Suzhou Yilong Company have different functions from the computer-related goods or services operated by the opponent, and the consumption channels and methods are not similar or related products and services, and will not cause confusion among consumers. and misidentification. However, if Suzhou Yilong Company registers its trademark for computer network and other related products, I am afraid that Yahoo!’s objection will be recognized by the Trademark Office, because the trademark laws of various countries regard “prior rights” as a condition for invalidating a registered trademark. , "prior rights" include prior trademark rights, name rights, copyrights, industrial design patent rights, trade name rights, etc. Domain name rights that have established a good reputation and become widely known through long-term use by others should also be classified as a type of "prior rights".
In addition to the two types of domain name disputes mentioned above, such as domain name infringement of trademark and other rights, and trademark and other rights infringement of domain name, there should also be a third type of dispute about domain name, that is, the dispute between domain names. Although domain names cannot be the same, one domain name may be similar to another domain name and may easily cause confusion and cause disputes. America Online (the owner of the Internet paging website "sued" Shenzhen Jinzhita Computer Software Company (which owns the domain names and for domain name infringement, which aroused the attention of people from all walks of life in China. focus on. Jinzhita failed without a fight. The Domain Name Dispute Arbitration Center (WIPO) of the World Intellectual Property Organization made a ruling on the domain names and It ruled that Shenzhen Jinzhita Computer Software Company maliciously registered and used the domain names and, these two domain names should be returned to AOL. Recently, the domain name dispute between Shanghai ( and Jinan (, which was heard in Shanghai Second Intermediate People's Court, is also a dispute between domain names. For such domain name disputes, whether to apply the Anti-Unfair Competition Law or the Trademark Law to resolve it, or to formulate special domain name laws to adjust it, is an urgent issue facing the legal community.
5. How to resolve domain name disputes
In the general sense, the main methods of dispute resolution include: litigation, arbitration, mediation, settlement through negotiation between the parties, and administrative settlement. These methods are also applicable to the resolution of domain name disputes. There are many cases of domain name disputes being resolved through litigation, and there are many judicial practices in this regard both in China and abroad. Three methods, including arbitration, mediation and negotiation, can also be realized according to the wishes of the parties to the dispute. Administrative resolution of domain names refers to the domain name registration authority resolving domain name disputes filed by parties, just as the Trademark Office and Patent Office handle trademark and patent opposition disputes. But what needs to be noted here is that some domain name management agencies have gradually transformed from national administrative agencies into the nature of private organizations. For example, ICANN, which manages international domain names, represents private organizations and is corporate in nature. In this way, their management of domain name disputes, It no longer has the nature of an administrative settlement. Nowadays, domain name registration agencies generally do not resolve domain name disputes themselves, but instead authorize independent private dispute resolution institutions, such as arbitration institutions, to resolve domain name disputes. ICANN has authorized four institutions including the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Arbitration and Mediation Center to resolve disputes related to international domain names in accordance with the domain name management policies and rules formulated by ICANN.  The domain name dispute resolution procedures of WIPO and CIETAC are characterized by simplicity, speed, economy, and expert resolution. These are similar to traditional arbitration. However, this expert resolution method cannot be called arbitration because it does not require an arbitration agreement and the award does not require an arbitration agreement. It does not have inevitable finality.
Regarding the conditions for receiving support for complaints about registered domain names, both ICANN and CNNIC have stipulated in their domain name management policies or domain name dispute resolution methods. The regulations of ICANN and CNNIC are basically the same, that is, the complainant should provide evidence to prove that the following conditions are met simultaneously: (1 ) The complainant enjoys trademark rights protected by law; (2) the domain name complained of is the same as the trademark, or is similar enough to cause confusion; (3) the domain name holder’s use of the domain name and other character combinations including the domain name It does not enjoy trademark rights or other rights and interests protected by law; (4) The domain name holder has bad faith in registering and using the domain name. The difference between ICANN and CNNIC's regulations is that CNNIC has more provisions (5) than ICANN's, that is, CNNIC requires the complainant to prove that the complainant's business has been or is very likely to be damaged by the registration and use of the domain name. However, if the trademark requested by the complainant for protection has been recognized as a well-known trademark by relevant agencies, the conditions specified in Article (5) do not require additional evidence. The author believes that since domain name registration authorities only make decisions on whether to revoke or transfer domain names within their scope of authority, dispute resolution agencies authorized to handle domain names only make rulings within the above scope and do not involve the identification of infringement and compensation for losses. , therefore, the above provision in Article (5) seems unnecessary, and it is also difficult for the complainant to prove that his business has been or is likely to be damaged, which will delay the procedure. 
Since their establishment, the four international domain name dispute resolution centers including WIPO have accepted more than 2,000 dispute cases, involving 3,900 disputed domain names, and 1,600 cases have been resolved, which has produced very large-scale disputes around the world. The impact has become a reference model for people to quickly and efficiently resolve disputes in other areas and study "online arbitration". WIPO's domain name dispute resolution method has the advantage of being fast and efficient. Since most materials are delivered on the Internet, and generally the two parties only exchange complaint and defense materials once, there is no court hearing. Moreover, no matter how valuable the disputed domain name is, the expert panel only The decision to revoke or transfer the domain name or reject the complaint does not involve compensation for losses, which determines the speedy resolution of the dispute. Generally, it only takes 45-60 days from the complaint to the expert panel's decision. WIPO's cost for resolving domain name disputes is also very low, including case acceptance fees and attorney fees. The cost of a party in a case will not exceed US$1,000, which is only a very small part compared with litigation and traditional arbitration. In order to ensure the unity and coherence of case results, WIPO makes all cases it accepts public on the Internet for inquiry and reference by parties and experts. This is also different from the confidentiality of traditional arbitration. In addition, the ruling made by WIPO does not automatically take effect. After ICANN receives the notification of the ruling from WIPO, it will wait for 10 days. If it receives notification within 10 days that the relevant party has submitted judicial proceedings regarding its domain name dispute, ICANN will suspend execution. program and wait for the next step to be taken.

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