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  • January 20, 2004

The Act on the Abusive Registration of Domain Names came into force on September 19 2003.

The Act on the Abusive Registration of Domain Names came into force on September 19 2003.

The act defines 'the abusive registration of domain names' as follows:

"the fact of registering a domain name or having a domain name registered by an officially approved entity, irrespective of whether through an intermediary, without having rights or legitimate interests in the domain name and with the intention of harming third parties or of taking an unfair advantage from the registration, when the domain is identical or confusingly similar to, inter alia, a trademark, a geographical indication or appellation of origin, a trade name, original works, company names, names of associations, personal names and names of geographic entities belonging to third parties."

Conditions of Application

The following conditions must be met to succeed in a challenge against an abusive domain name registration:

  • The registrant must have no right or legitimate interest in the domain name;
  • The registration must have been made with the intent to harm a third party or to take unfair advantage;
  • The domain name must be identical or confusingly similar to one of the abovementioned names or signs (not all of which are registered); and
  • The plaintiff must have a right or interest in the name or sign relied upon.

These conditions do not differ for the most part from those contained in the Belgian domain name dispute resolution policy for the abusive registration and/or use of a domain name within the '.be' country-code top-level domain (ccTLD). It is likely that the "the intent to harm a third party or to take unfair advantage" will be interpreted in the same manner as the requirement of "bad faith" under the policy.

Scope of the Act

The act applies to all domain name registrations within the '.be' ccTLD. In addition, unlike the domain name dispute resolution policy, the act applies to domain names registered in other ccTLDs and generic top-level domains, provided the registrant is based in Belgium.

Remedy

In the event of an abusive registration, the applicant is entitled to seek judicial relief, similar to a motion for summary judgment but without the need to establish that the matter is urgent, leading to a decision on the merits. The court can order that the registration be annulled or that the domain name be transferred to the plaintiff. In addition, the plaintiff can seek to publish the judgment if this would help to put an end to the infringement.

Comment

Many effective means of fighting abusive domain name registrations were already in existence prior to the act's entry into force. It remains to be seen whether plaintiffs will make use of the new remedy provided in the act.

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