Who “Solves” Domain Name Disputes?

By Kevin Nie, Anne Zhang, China IP,[Internet & Domain]

The domain name dispute over the use of mercer.com.cn came to an end after four years of settlement negotiation. The significance of the case for IP industry is that it has gone through all the legal procedures to finality: from domain name complaint, to the trial of first instance, the trial of second instance and finally ended in the appellate court for retrial. During this process there has been a great deal of legal maneuvering: objection to jurisdiction was raised; the choice of forum was changed and the case was moved from Shanghai to Beijing; the settlement contents included the Domain Name Dispute Resolution Center (DNDRC) of China International Economic and Trade Arbitration Commission (CIETAC), Shanghai No. 2 Intermediate People’s Court, Shanghai Higher People’s Court, Beijing No. 1 Intermediate People’s Court, Beijing Higher People’s Court and The Supreme People’s Court. Therefore, the case provides virtually all of us within the IP field an opportunity to take a glimpse into the full range of possible legal procedure that may come into play, while providing legal services or advice in such a typical case in the field of domain name disputes.
It was in August, 1999 that the first case involving a domain name dispute was first filed in China in the Beijing No. 2 Intermediate People’s Court. From then on, the number of domain name disputes has greatly increased. However, many enterprises are perplexed because they do not know how to file a case or who has the jurisdiction over the dispute.
China has formulated a series of laws and regulations that assist in the settlement of domain name dispute resolutions through arbitration or litigation. However, there are still many difficulties in putting these rules into practice. For example, the judgments reached may be inconsistent, if not totally different, due to the differences in the local methods used for verification of evidence and application of the laws. Therefore, it seems that even though the case has ended, we have just begun the process of understanding and applying the rules and procedures for domain name protection.

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