Cybersquatting cases continued to grow in 2016 with .com accounting for two-thirds (66.89%) of the 5,374 disputed domain names the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center adjudicated, up from 4,364 (71.71%) in 2015. For .com, the number of disputed .com domains in 2016 was 3,135 compared to 2,732 in 2015, a 10% increase year-on-year.
While .com was easily responsible for the most disputed domains, the number of disputes among new gTLDs is growing, although nowhere near as quickly as registrations. Cybersquatting disputes among new gTLDs grew to 16% (860) of the WIPO caseload, compared to 10.5% (458) in 2015. However the total number of registrations in new gTLDs grew from 3.7 million as of 1 January 2015 to 11.2 million on 1 January 2016 and 27.6 million on 1 January 2017.
Unsurprisingly given it accounted for around one in 4 new gTLD registrations (6.7 million) at the end of 2016, up from 1.8 million at the end of 2015, .xyz accounted for the most disputes of any of the new gTLDs. There were 321 domain names disputed in 2016 compared to 62 in 2015 when it was the TLD with the fifth most domain names disputed.
“The continuing growth in cybersquatting cases worldwide shows the need for continued vigilance by trademark owners and consumers alike,” said WIPO Director General Francis Gurry commenting on the report. “This is even more important as a considerable number of these disputes involve incidents of online counterfeiting. In such cases, WIPO assists in restoring these domain names to trademark owners, thereby curbing consumer deception.”
Disputes for the 74 ccTLDs that WIPO adjudicates cybersquatting disputes on accounted for 14% of all disputes compared to 13.7% in 2015 for 71 ccTLDs.
The top sectors of complainant activity were banking and finance (12% of all cases), fashion (9%), heavy industry and machinery (9%), internet and IT (8%), biotechnology and pharmaceuticals (7%) and retail (7%). The top brands filing cases were Philip Morris with 67 cases followed by AB Electrolux (51) and Hugo Boss, LEGO, and Michelin (42 each).