Abstract - The Information Society 17(3)

Rough Justice: A statistical assessment of ICANN's Uniform Dispute Resolution Policy

Milton Mueller

Longstanding conflict between domain name registrants and trademark holders prompted the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) to create a global, mandatory arbitration procedure known as the Uniform Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP). The UDRP has been used in 2166 cases involving 3938 domain names as of 1 November 2000. The policy gives the initiator of a complaint, generally a trademark holder, the right to choose which ICANN-accredited dispute resolution service provider (RSP) will handle the case. During the preparation of the UDRP, some feared that complainant selection would lead to “forum shopping” that might bias the results. This paper performs a statistical assessment of the forum-shopping thesis and finds support for it. There are statistically significant differences in the various RSPs' propensity to take away names from defendants; there are also major differences in the number of cases brought to each RSP. RSPs who take away names have the larger share of cases. The study examines other variables that might explain differences in market share, such as price, the plaintiff's nationality or the time taken to decide a case. It finds that nationality and time also are correlated with market share. The study concludes that shopping for a favorable outcome is an important factor in the UDRP.

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