GENEVA — Fashion was ranked the second most-affected sector in the record 3,074 cybersquatting cases filed in 2017 by trademark owners, a report by the World Intellectual Property Organization said.
The WIPO report shows that cybersquatting — the abusive registration of trademarks as domain names — was most prevalent in banking and finance, which accounted for 12 percent of all cases, followed by the fashion industry, with 11 percent of all cases, and up on the previous year’s share of 9 percent.
Fashion cases filed in 2017 included 19 cybersquatting complaints by Golden Goose of Italy; 16 by Asos of the U.K.; 10 each by L’Oréal of France and designer Philipp Plein; nine each by Calvin Klein and Mou Limited; six by Dr. Martens; five each by Skorpio Limited and Yves Saint Laurent, and four by Hugo Boss.
Complaints were also filed by Bottega Veneta, Cartier, Giorgio Armani, Guess, Tommy Hilfiger, H&M, Isabel Marant, JanSport, Marie Claire, Moncler, Prada, Revlon, Swatch, Valentino and Vans, among others, WIPO said.
In over one-third of fashion-related cases filed in 2017, the WIPO findings reveal, complainants asserted counterfeiting.
In addition, the WIPO report noted that more than one in five — 21.4 percent — domain names involved in fashion sector cases were new generic Top-Level Domains (gTLDs) – the third highest rate among business sectors following hotels and travel, and banking and finance.
It also said the top three new gTLDs in fashion-related cases were .store, .shop, and .online.
“By abusing trademarks in the Domain Name system, cybersquatting undermines legitimate commerce and harms consumers,” said Francis Gurry, WIPO director general.
“This is true especially where squatters use domain names to offer counterfeit goods or for phishing, as is seen in numerous WIPO cases,” he said.
Gurry, an Australian trained lawyer, said the availability of the WIPO Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy, or UDRP, “is an indispensable support for the credibility of commerce on the Internet and for protection against fraudulent practices.”
The agency said that, overall, the U.S. remained the country where most WIPO domain name dispute cases originated, with 920 cases filed in 2017, followed by France with 462, the U.K. (276), Germany (222), Switzerland (143), Sweden (135) and Italy (111). It noted that in total, parties from 112 countries were involved in case filings last year.
Similarly, WIPO said, the U.S. was, the country where most respondents were based, with 758 cases, followed by China, with 492, the U.K., with 184, and France, with 100 cases.