Disputes about domain names
It is possible that a domain name may be registered that conflicts with certain rights of a third party. If someone is of the opinion that his rights have been infringed by the registration of a .be domain name, the dispute can be placed before the court with suitable jurisdiction or before the Belgian Centre for Arbitration and Mediation, CEPINA.
The registration of domain names takes place on the general principle of "first come, first served". Consequently, it makes no assessment of any rights that the applicant may or may not have over a similar domain name. Nor does it rule on the suitability of the domain name for the intended purpose. It is the registrant (domain name holder) who bears total responsibility for the use made of the domain name and the content of any website linked to the domain name.
The content-related examination of actual disputes arising from the registration or use of a domain name must be ruled on by the relevant government bodies with jurisdiction. Which is why the general terms and conditions that apply to all .be domain name holders state that "All other disputes between the domain name holder and any party other than DNS.be over the domain name registration must be resolved through any court proceedings, arbitration or other available proceedings".
When settling a domain name dispute, the rights of the parties have to be evaluated with respect to content (for example: does the complainant have intellectual rights to a particular domain name? Is there misuse of the trading name or personal name of the complainant and so on). Such evaluations come under the sole authority of the courts or accredited bodies for dispute settlement and do not come under the jurisdiction of DNS.be.
What should be done in the event of a domain name dispute?
In the event of a dispute about domain names, it is strongly recommended to come to an amicable agreement with the other party by urging the other party to transfer the domain name and to do so by setting the details of the transfer down in a written agreement. It is also possible that the registrant may ask for a specific amount of money for the transfer of the domain name to take place. This may indicate that the domain name has actually been registered illegitimately, but it depends on individual circumstances. In itself, asking for an amount of money for the transfer of the domain name is not unlawful.
Based on the transfer agreement, the domain name can be transferred to the party taking on the domain name. The registrar selected by the latter will do so using the existing procedure.
However, if the current registrant emphatically refuses to go ahead with the amicable transfer of the domain name, consideration can be given to undertaking procedural measures. If that is the case, there are two possible procedures:
- Procedure on the grounds of the Procedure Act governing the unlawful registration of domain names, passed on 26th June 2003.
- The Alternative Dispute Resolution procedure (ADR for short) with CEPINA, the Belgian Centre for Arbitration and Mediation.