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What Is the UDRP?

The Uniform Domain-Name Dispute-Resolution Policy—commonly referred to as UDRP—is an agreement that applies to domain registrar–client relationships. It sets the terms for how clashes between trademark owners and domain holders are to be resolved, and what constitutes such a clash in the first place.

In this article, we'll cover:

Why Does the UDRP Exist?

The UDRP was established by ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) in 1999 to solve the problem of trademark use in domains without mark owners’ approval.

The policy provides a framework through which trademark owners can retrieve (or have canceled) domain names that benefit from the use of their mark for nefarious ends.

An administrative and global procedure, the UDRP fast-tracks and simplifies what would otherwise need to be handled by costly and time-consuming litigation.

Does the UDRP apply to all domains?

The UDRP applies to most domains. All domain names that end in a generic top level domain (like .com, .net, and .org) are included, as are less common iterations (like .museum and .biz). Country code top level domains (such as .bz, .ug, and .nu) are included for countries that adopted the policy.

Where are UDRP complaints filed?

UDRP complaints can be filed with one of about a half-dozen designated agencies. Two popular providers are the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and FORUM.

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What Are the Elements of a UDRP Complaint?

UDRP complaints need to follow specific guidelines to be successful. Certain information needs to be supplied, such as:

  • Contact information
  • Parties involved
  • Preferred communication method
  • Domains in question
  • Registrars connected to the domains
  • Trademark the complaint is based on
  • Desired remedies


Additionally, there are three elements that must be discussed in the complaint and, ultimately, proven in order for the complainant (trademark owner) to succeed:

  1. Is the domain name confusingly similar to the trademark in question?
  2. Does the domain registrant lack rights or legitimate interest in the domain?
  3. Was the domain registered and used in “bad faith”?

If the answer to these questions is “yes,” the trademark owner should be successful in either having the domain transferred to them, or having it canceled entirely.

What is bad faith?

In relation to domains, “bad faith” means that a domain name has been registered with negative intentions. For example, it’s bad faith for someone to register a domain with the intention of tricking consumers into providing personal information under false pretenses. Bad faith is an essential component of cybersquatting.

How Does the UDRP Process Work?

Complaints filed with the UDRP are resolved through ample documentation and digital correspondence. The process follows the same general steps regardless of which approved provider is used.

Though exact timelines and steps vary based on the specific situation, most UDRP decisions are made within two months of the complaint’s filing date. Decisions are made by either a one- or three-person panel, depending on the preferences of the parties involved.

Here is a general rundown of what to expect:

Complaint Filing

Complaints must be filed electronically with an approved UDRP service provider.

Notification of Complaint

Once the complaint is filed, the impacted parties are notified of it. A lock is placed on the domain for the duration of the UDRP proceeding, and a start date for the proceeding is set.

Response Filing

No later than 20 days after the proceeding’s start date, the respondent (domain holder) needs to submit a response to the complaint. (More time may be granted in certain situations.)

Panel Appointed & Decision Date Set

The provider names the panelists who will determine the complaint’s outcome. The panel will consist of either one or three members, depending on the requests of the complainant and respondent. Once the panel is selected, the provider will choose a date for the final decision to be issued.

Decision Made

After no more than 14 days of deliberation, the panel will send its decision to the provider, who will then send the decision to the parties, registrar(s), and ICANN.

Decision Implemented

If the panel decides the domain should be transferred or canceled, the registrar will carry out that decision.

Frequently Asked Questions

Should I file a UDRP complaint?

If a domain containing your trademark has been registered in what appears to be bad faith, whether you should file a UDRP complaint depends, in part, on how much damage the domain is causing you. While the UDRP path is generally much cheaper than litigation, it’s not free. Before filing, it’s a good idea to ask yourself whether the damage being done is worth $1,500 or more in fees.

What remedies are available in a UDRP proceeding?

A UDRP proceeding that is successful for the complainant will mean the domain has either been canceled or transferred. Damages are not available via the UDRP.

How long does it take to settle a UDRP complaint?

After a UDRP complaint is filed, it typically takes about two months for a decision to be issued.

How much does it cost to file a UDRP complaint?

Filing a UDRP complaint generally costs between $1,500 and $5,000, depending on the number of domain names in question and how many panelists are requested.

Who pays for UDRP proceedings?

In most cases, the complainant must pay UDRP fees. However, if the domain holder specifically requests a three-member panel, they will be responsible for paying half the applicable panel fees.

What’s the difference between UDRP and ACPA?

The UDRP and ACPA (Anti-Cybersquatting Consumer Protection Act) serve similar purposes but in different ways. Both provide a legal framework through which trademark owners can resolve domain conflicts that infringe on their trademark rights. But where the UDRP is an administrative proceeding, ACPA claims are handled in federal court. As a result, UDRP filings tend to be cheaper and less time intensive than those filed with the ACPA.

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