On 14 February 2006, China Internet Network Information Centre
("CNNIC") published a new dispute resolution policy
("2006 Policy") for .cn domain names, which will come
into force on 17 March 2006. The purpose of the amendments to the
current .cn dispute resolution policy is to balance the benefits of
trade mark owners with those of domain name registrants.
The 2006 Policy introduces three major amendments to the
existing .cn dispute resolution policy: a time bar for domain name
disputes; a narrowing of the scope of the bad faith requirement;
and further clarification on the requirements for a domain name
registrant to prove it has legitimate interests in the disputed
Time bar for filing domain name disputes
One of the most important amendments in the 2006 Policy is that
after 17 March 2006 it will no longer be possible to file
complaints in respect of .cn domain names which have been
registered for at least 2 years. The only recourse for trade mark
or brand owners in such situations will be to file a civil action
with the People's Courts in the PRC.
Narrowing of "bad faith"
Another significant change which will be brought about by the
2006 Policy is a narrowing of the bad faith requirement. The
current wording "registering for the purpose of selling,
hiring or assigning to obtain unjustified benefits" has been
amended to read "registering for the purpose of selling,
hiring or assigning to the civil right owner or to
their competitors to obtain unjustified
benefits". This means that evidence obtained by means of
anonymous approaches will no longer be sufficient to prove bad
faith. Instead, evidence of offers to sell, hire or assign,
directed at the right owner or a competitor will be required.
Clarification of circumstances which are deemed
sufficient for registrant to prove legitimate interest
The 2006 Policy also offers clarification on the circumstances
in which a registrant can rebut a complainant's claim that
the registrant has no legitimate interests in a disputed domain
Any of the following circumstances will be regarded as
sufficient to prove a legitimate interest in a disputed domain
i) the domain name registrant has used the disputed domain name
or corresponding names in good faith to provide goods or services
(in other words, the disputed domain name resolves to an active
website from where the registrant provides goods and services);
ii) the domain name registrant has not obtained any trade or
service mark in respect of the disputed domain name, but has
acquired a certain reputation in respect of the domain name through
use (in other words, the domain name resolves to an active
iii) the domain name registrant has legitimately used the
disputed domain name for commercial or non-commercial purposes and
has used it without the intention of obtaining commercial gain or
to mislead the public (in other words, such use does not seek to
take a free ride on the complainant's brand).
The upshot of this change is that provided the domain name
resolves to an active website, it will now be more difficult for a
complainant to argue that the registrant has no legitimate
interests in the disputed domain name.
The 2006 Policy will make it more difficult for trade mark
owners to recover .cn domain names. Brand owners are advised to
conduct a domain name audit and file any outstanding domain name
disputes as soon as possible and in any event before the new
amendments come into force on 17 March 2006.
After 17 March 2006, brand owners should be vigilant and conduct
periodical domain name searches to ensure that domain name
complaints are filed in a timely manner and in any event before the
expiry of the 2 year period since the registration of the domain
name. A careful assessment of the evidence of bad faith and the
interests acquired by the registrant in the disputed domain name,
should be undertaken prior to the filing of any .cn domain name
complaint after 17 March 2006.
The authors are partner and trainee solicitor respectively
working in the Technology Media and Telecoms Group of Lovells in
Hong Kong. If you have any questions in relation to this article,
please contact either author at Gabriela.email@example.com or
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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