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Courts to settle Web domain name disputes

Local courts will have a bigger role in settling Web domain name disputes following major changes brought to the existing framework, said a senior Etisalat official. The prime criteria will be that the domain name must have 'ae' in it.

The UAE's Network Information Centre (UAEnic) has introduced major changes to the legal framework for domain name registration and dispute resolution. The changes come into effect from June 1.

In instances of disputes, the parties involved can approach the local courts, and the case will be heard based on local laws, confirmed a top official with Etisalat. However, it is a must that all parties must be based in the UAE.

Another option, provided all the parties are agreeable to it, is to refer the issue to the arbitration panel under the Geneva-based World Intellectual Property Organisation (Wipo). A judgement will be passed within 45 days or so.

"Etisalat's role is only to offer very light mediation at the beginning of a dispute. It is for the courts or the Wipo panel to deliver verdicts," said Naser Sulaiman, legal counsel, Etisalat.

"Approaching the courts may take time for resolution - but that is the case everywhere." According to him, the number of domain name disputes in the UAE is still low.

Meanwhile, UAEnic has introduced changes to registration policies, rules, terms and conditions for those domain names with '.ae' in it.

"The process has taken us nearly a year to finalise all the legal issues. Now, we have become the first top level domain name administrator (TLD) in the Middle East to gain Wipo's endorsement," said Abdulla Hashim, manager of UAEnic, an Etisalat business unit.

"We are not a legal entity, and our responsibility is mainly to be an administrator of Web registrations."

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