Canada Enters the World of Internet Dispute Arbitration

Vancouver-based arbitration centre takes on international cases

Canada Enters the World of Internet Dispute Arbitration

Disputes over who has a legitimate right to make use of website names, which are a form of intellectual property, are becoming more frequent.

With more than 350 million individual domain names now registered worldwide, Internet conflicts are increasing along with the importance of e-commerce.

COVID-19 is only the latest factor accelerating the trend toward e-commerce. The net result is an increasing value of recognizable and desirable website names.

It’s been reported that the rights to Insurance.com sold for USD $36 million, Voice.com sold last year for USD $30 million, while Ice.com sold for USD $3.5 million. Closer to home, in late October it was reported by the Vancouver Sun that the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia placed a value of $10 million on their icbc.com web address.

As we all know, where there is money there is the potential for a dispute.

In fact, more than 60,000 disputes have been brought under “uniform domain name dispute resolution policy” (“UDRP”) established by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (“ICANN”), the Internet’s governing body, since 1999. The UDRP applies to all generic top-level domain (gTLD) names, including .com, .org, and .net.

To help address this demand, a long-time fixture of Canada’s legal community, the BC International Commercial Arbitration Centre (“BCICAC”), has expanded its role in resolving Internet domain name disputes by launching a fully-owned subsidiary, the Canadian International Internet Dispute Resolution Centre (“CIIDRC”).

The application process, through ICANN, invited comments from Internet users around the world. Ultimately, BCICAC’s CIIDRC was approved to be ICANN’s second operating provider of domain name dispute resolution services in the Western Hemisphere, and the only one in Canada.

BCICAC was established in 1986 as a non-profit foundation administering arbitrations covering a wide array of subjects, including construction and shareholder disputes, underinsured motorist claims involving ICBC, and (since 2002) .ca domain name disputes for the Canadian Internet Registration Authority (“CIRA”).

CIIDRC’s recent approval will expand BCICAC’s administration of domain name disputes from disputes over .ca domain names to disputes involving more than 1,500 top-level domains.

CIIDRC’s dispute resolution processes are supported by an innovative and interactive online platform (ciidrc.org) built by BCICAC, to support this new initiative.

CIIDRC.org is available 24/7 to anyone wishing to make a domain name complaint, seek information, or find updates on their case. The site also provides detailed information about CIIDRC’s roster of arbitrators.

If someone believes they are the victim of domain name abuse (such as cybersquatting), they may be asked to pay an exorbitant fee to buy the name, but alternatively they can challenge the registration in accordance with the UDRP.

CIIDRC.org is gaining an international following, and the number of cases is increasing. Unlike most commercial arbitration cases, decisions for UDRP and CIRA disputes must be made public and are available for viewing on our website. If you are interested in the legal tests, which are applied in determining the rightful holder of website names, take a look at some of the decisions.

BCICAC and CIIDRC’s mission is to deliver an easy-to-use, neutral, transparent and expedited online platform to resolve disputes. This new global centre for resolution of domain name disputes, based in Vancouver, is a beacon of Vancouver’s already stellar reputation in legal technology and access to justice.


Footnote: As of September 1, 2020, BCICAC will be known as the Vancouver International Arbitration Centre.