Legal Representation in Internet Domain Disputes
Internet domain name disputes arise because a certain domain name can be assigned to a specific top-level domain only once. The allocation procedure of internet domain names to certain persons is governed by the priority principle, i.e. that the person who has first registered the internet domain, shall be the domain owner (“first come, first served”). There are exceptions to this priority principle. The most important exception applies when a claimant can claim a better right to the domain name than the registrant of the domain name.
ZELLER & SEYFERT will enforce your better right to the domain name on national and international levels, both in German courts as well as in international arbitration proceedings. Conversely, our attorneys will help your business to defend your domain name against procedural attacks by third parties.
In our litigation law firm Attorney Dr. Christian Seyfert, LL.M. (USA) will handle the internet domain name dispute of your company. Christian is a Certified IP Law Specialist as well as a Certified Copyright & Media Law Specialist. He has been handling internet domain name disputes in Germany, in the EU and on an international scale for many years.
Legal Representation before German Courts
If your company has a better (“earlier with priority”) right to a “.de”-registered internet domain, then your company needs to enforce this better right in Germany in court. The central registry in Germany for all internet domains under the top-level domain .de (DENIC) refrains from deciding domain name disputes. The DENIC also offers no dispute settlement procedures as an alternative to court proceedings. German courts are also responsible for domain name disputes on other top-level domains, if the defendant is domiciled in Germany or the infringement has effects in Germany.
In Germany, internet domain name disputes are decided in the first instance by two different courts, either by the Federal Patent Court in Munich or by a commercial division at a locally competent civil district court.
Legal Representation before the Federal Patent Court in Munich
The Federal Patent Court in Munich has jurisdiction to decide about certain appeals in German internet domain name disputes when an aggrieved party wants to check with the appeal whether a certain decision of the German Patent and Trade Mark Office (DPMA) on a particular internet domain was accurate. Decisions of the DPMA against the owner of an internet domain come into question, e.g., when the internet domain owner could not succeed in an opposition procedure before the DPMA against the owner of a trademark which has a later priority. Attorney Dr. Christian Seyfert, LL.M. (USA) has represented owners of internet domains for years in opposition proceedings and in later appellate proceedings before the Federal Patent Court in Munich.
Legal Representation before the German civil courts
For many years, Attorney Dr. Christian Seyfert, LL.M. (USA) has represents his clients also before the commercial chambers of the German civil courts that are responsible for disputes on internet domains in certain cases. In particular in the following constellations, commercial chambers of the German civil courts are responsible to decide about disputes on internet domain names:
- Injunctive relief against the continued unauthorized use of your internet domains
- Requests for information from the infringer of your internet domains on the nature and extent of the unauthorized use of your internet domains (right to information)
- Claims for damages, in particular profits made
by the infringer of your internet domains and compensation according to the license analogy principle (damages for infringement of your internet domains)
- Claims against the infringer of your internet domains to destruct or recall illegally manufactured or distributed products which have been illegally identified with your internet domains (destruction and recall rights concerning products which are in violation of your internet domain names)
- Claim against the infringer of your internet domains to submit certain bank, financial or commercial documents (submission of certain documents)
- Cancellation proceeding before the German trademark office and before the responsible German courts: Cancellation of a trademark because of the existence of earlier internet domain name rights
Legal Representation before German courts of higher instances (German courts of last resort)
Our attorneys will fight for owners of internet domains before German courts of higher instances (German courts of last resort), if such proceedings become necessary. Such courts of higher instances are the Federal Supreme Court and the Higher Regional Courts in Germany. The Federal Supreme Court is responsible for appellate proceedings against decisions of the Federal Patent Court on internet domain rights. Higher Regional Courts are on the other hand responsible for appellate proceedings against district court decisions on internet domains.
If – up to now – your company has been unsuccessfully represented in an internet domain dispute by another law firm, it may be a good idea to change course and have the internet domain name dispute handled by a different law firm. Our attorneys offer you to analyze your internet domain dispute in detail and give you a detailed expert opinion on your chances in an appellate proceeding before a German court of last resort. Our attorneys are familiar with appellate proceedings before German courts of last resort. Please just contact us to have a discussion with our attorneys about your internet domain case.
Legal Representation in Summary Proceedings (Speedy Trials)
If somebody has infringed upon your internet domain name rights, urgent legal action is regularly necessary to stop further domain name violations at the expense of your company for the future. Our litigation attorneys will quickly enforce the domain name rights of your company. In this regard, they will seek an immediate injunction in a speedy trial (summary proceeding) before the competent German court. They will also preliminary enforce certain rights to information on the nature and extent of the domain name violations. Our attorneys will deal with the domain name issue of your company quickly and seek swift injunctive relief for your domain name claims before the competent German court.
Legal Representation before the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in Luxembourg
Decisions of the board of appeals for Community trademark matters with the Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market (OHIM) on the issue, whether the owner of an internet domain name has earlier naming rights than a Community trademark owner, can be appealed to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in Luxembourg. Our attorneys are acquainted with representing clients in internet domain name matters before the ECJ. In our law firm, Attorney Dr. Christian Seyfert, LL.M (USA) will handle the domain name case of your company. Christian will guide your company through the appellate ECJ procedure and give you his fair expert opinion on your company’s chances of success.
Legal Representation before the German and EU Trademark Offices
Our attorneys represent owners of internet domain names also in litigation before the trademark offices, namely the German Patent and Trade Mark Office (DPMA) and the Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market (OHIM). A few years ago, the legislature in Germany and the EU had changed the law in a way that also a domain owner may oppose with the DPMA or the OHIM against trademarks which had been registered after the domain name right had come into existence. Attorney Dr. Christian Seyfert, LL.M. (USA) has fought for owners of internet domains for years in opposition proceedings. He will also give you legal advice on how your company may enforce its domain name rights in alternative proceedings.
Legal Representation in ICANN Domain Name Dispute Resolution Proceedings
An ICANN domain name dispute resolution proceeding can be commenced concerning all of the following important generic top-level domains: .com, .net, .org, .biz, .info, .name, .aero, .edu, .asia, .coop, .pro, .jobs, .mobi, .travel, .museum, .tel, .pro, .cat. The substantive law to resolve domain name disputes in ICANN domain name dispute resolution proceedings is governed by ICANN’s Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP). The procedural aspects are governed by the Rules for Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (RUDRP). The RUDRP is supplemented by the Supplemental Rules for Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (SRUDRP) of the respective approved dispute resolution service provider.
Approved dispute resolution service providers for the ICANN domain name dispute resolution proceeding are currently limited to the following four providers:
- WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Centre in Geneva (Switzerland) and Singapore
- National Arbitration Forum (NAF) in Minneapolis (USA)
- CPR Institute for Dispute Resolution in New York (USA)
- Asia Domain Name Dispute Resolution Centre (ADNDRC) in Hong Kong, Peking (China), Seoul (South Korea) and Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia)
The complainant may freely choose before which of these four approved dispute resolution service providers he wants to proceed. Our attorneys will advise your company on whether the ICANN domain name dispute resolution proceeding promises success in your individual case or – alternatively – if your company should better enforce its rights directly before an ordinary German court. Our attorneys will find the most effective way for your business and represent your company in the ICANN proceeding from the beginning until its successful completion.
Legal Representation in EURid Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Proceedings
If a domain name dispute is related to a .eu-domain, an alternative dispute resolution proceeding before the EURid is possible. Unlike the German legislature, which has not created an arbitral dispute resolution procedure for .de-domains, the EU wanted to provide the owner of a .eu-domain with an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) proceeding against speculative or abusive domain name registrations, which is designed to be both quick and inexpensive for the claimant. Attorney at Law Dr. Christian Seyfert, LL.M. (USA) has extensive experience in representing his clients in EURid alternative dispute resolution (ADR) proceedings. There are also other ways to enforce your .eu-domains. Christian will advise your company in the individual case on how to best enforce your .eu-domains.
Letters – Legal Representation out of court
Owners of internet domains generally have the obligation – according to German civil law – to first send a warning letter out of court to the party which is violating your internet domain name rights. This warning letter shall achieve the following three goals:
- It shall inform the party which is infringing on your internet domain name rights about its domain name violations;
- it shall seek a possible settlement between the parties in the domain name dispute; and
- it shall seek an end to the domain name violations for the future.
Rushing with an internet domain name dispute to a German court without prior demanding from the domain name violating party to cease and desist from its domain name infringements may otherwise have the consequence that your company has to pay the fees and costs of the entire domain name dispute (court fees and attorney fees of both parties), even if your company later wins the domain name lawsuit.