A domain name is no more a mere web address. With increasing number of individuals and companies using domain names to conduct both online and offline businesses, the importance of a stable and retainable domain name has increased manifolds. A domain name is stable and retainable if it is not in violation of various laws and rules as prescribed in relation to domain name registrations. If it violates the norms as prescribe by international domain name registration rules or any other local laws, the domain name may be suspended, deleted, forfeited, transferred or seized. Investing in a potentially disputable and controversial domain name is a bad e-commerce strategy that every entrepreneur must avoid.
Most of the e-commerce businesses predominantly rely upon the strength of a domain name and for a successful implementation of any e-commerce business domain name protection is very important. E-commerce businesses are also required to comply with e-commerce laws of India to remain on the right side of the Indian laws.
Domain names have the tremendous potential to create brands and trademarks. They may also result in violation of the brands and trademarks of others. While every entrepreneur must keep in mind that he/she is not infringing the rights of others yet he/she must also be ready to fight back to protect his/her own goodwill, brand and reputation that he/she has earned and acquired through constant and continuous use of his/her domain name.
Many big companies, especially technology companies, regularly indulge in threatening and coercing the genuine domain name holders to part away their domains. This process is known as reverse domain name hijackings that every genuine domain name holder must fiercly resist and fight back against. Most of the times the genuine domain name holders surrender the domain name due to fear of legal actions. In reality, the law is in their favour and they can force even the biggest companies to cease troubling them and bear the legal costs spent for fighting the case.
Domain name protection in India is also facing the conflict of laws in cyberspace. For instance, domain name dispute resolution mechanism of ICANN is not suitable for domain name dispute resolution in many cases. Further, domain name dispute resolution at ICANN also does not respect the laws of other countries, including India. The domain name protection in India must be free from ICANN’s influence.
As per the Information Technology Act, 2000 and the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines) Rules, 2011, an Indian domain registrar who is accredited to ICANN and operating in India is an intermediary and it is required to follow cyber law due diligence requirements (PDF) to escape Internet intermediary liability in India. Such registrar cannot escape its liability under Indian law by citing the ICANN’s agreement. Google’s Online Defamation case has proved that such an approach is not only defective but is also prone to legal actions in India. India government must enact a clear cut law to ensure domain name protections in India so that ICANN’s procedure cannot defeat the rights and interests of Indian domain name holders.