Degrees of Separation

Josh Bourne ⬥ 24 May

Proxy services are a serious problem. They embolden cybersquatters and cybercriminals by providing them with safe harbor in the form of invisibility and/or anonymity and make it difficult for trademark owners to gain access to infringers.

A proxy service is a registered domain name holder (“registrant”) that licenses the use of a domain name to a third party (“licensee”). RAA Subsection clarifies that the proxy service remains the registrant of the record and is legally liable if the licensee uses the domain name in an inappropriate or abusive manner. In fact, if a company can provide “reasonable evidence of actionable harm”, the proxy service will be held fully responsible unless it identifies the licensee in a “prompt” manner.

Although ICANN delivers a significant message in terms of a proxy service’s accountability, it leaves both “reasonable evidence of actionable harm” and “prompt identification” open to the interpretation of a court or arbitrator, and should serve as a reminder of the real threat that proxy services continue to pose to trademark owners. 

Tags: cybersquatters, domain name, ICANN, licensee, Proxy services, RAA, registrant, trademark owners

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