ADVOCATES OF THE CAMEROON BAR / OAPI ACCREDITED PATENT AND TRADEMARK ATTORNEYS / AGENTS
Under our legal system, domain names are a simple form of an Internet address, designed to serve the function of enabling users to locate sites on the Internet in an easy manner. They may be registered in spaces known as “ generic top-level domains”(gTLDs) such as .com, .org, .net, or in the “country code top-level domains” (ccTLDs) such as .ch for Switzerland , .fr for France, .cm for Cameroon or .uk for the United Kingdom etc.
The use of the domain name system has grown and is continuing to grow very rapidly. Since domain names are easy to remember and use, the domain name system (DNS), the central system for routing traffic on the Internet has assumed a key role in electronic commerce. On the one hand, it facilitates the ability of consumers to navigate the internet to find web sites they are looking for, and on the other hand, it facilitates businesses’ ability to promote and an easy to remember name or word which may, at the same time, serve to identify and distinguish the business itself or it’s goods or services and to specify its corresponding online, Internet location.
Following the increase of commercial activities on the Internet, domain names have acquired increasing significance as business identifiers and consequently have come into conflict with the traditional system of business identifiers that existed prior to the Internet and that are protected by intellectual property rights, namely, trademarks and other rights of business identification, geographical indications and the developing field of personality rights. The tension between domain names and intellectual property rights has led to many problems that raise challenging questions.
On the one hand the Domain Name System (DNS) is largely privately administered and gives rise to registrations that result in a global presence, accessible from anywhere in the world. On the other hand, the intellectual property rights system is publicly administered on a territorial basis and gives rise to rights that are exercisable and enforceable only within the territory concerned. This lack harmony between the two systems has been exacerbated by some predatory and parasitical practices that have been adopted by some people to exploit the lack of connection between the purposes for which the domain name system was designed and those for which intellectual property protection exists. Example of such practices include but are not limited to the deliberate, bad faith registration as domain names of trademarks in the hope of being able to sell the domain names to the owners of the trademarks, or simply to take unfair advantage of the reputation attached to the trademarks in issue.