A new tool in the fight against online infringement


Online infringements and domain squatting are challenges often faced by businesses and tackling such issues has been made all the more difficult in a post-GDPR world where most publicly available domain name registration information, which was previously available in WHOIS databases, has been redacted for data privacy.

Identifying the domain name registrant (i.e. the likely infringer) is an important element of any enforcement strategy, expanding the list of options available to rightsholders and also depriving infringers of the anonymity which might otherwise encourage their activities.

ICANN has been acutely aware of the challenges faced in obtaining non-public registration data in recent years which has involved a fragmented approach requiring rightsholders and other interested parties (e.g. law enforcement) to approach data requests on a registry and/or registrar specific basis.

To address this, ICANN has been looking to implement a System for Standardised Access/Disclosure aimed at streamlining and standardising the process for requests. The most recent step in this process is the launch of the Registration Data Request Service (“RDRS”) which, as described by ICANN, is a “free, global, one-stop shop ticketing system that handles non-public gTLD registration data requests”.

This new system should simplify the process for requestors and ensure that data release requests are directed to the right persons for efficient handling.

The system is not without its limitations:

  • It will only apply to generic top-level domains (gTLDs) and not country code top-level domains (ccTLDs) (e.g. .uk); and
  • It is a voluntary service, so not all registrars will necessarily participate.

Furthermore, it is important to recognise that submitting a request via the RDRS does not guarantee that the registrant data will be released. Registrars will still carefully assess who is making the request and why they want the data and will then conduct an assessment to balance the registrant’s privacy rights with a requestor’s legitimate interests.

Nonetheless, this is a useful new tool and it may help to make such non-public data more accessible for those with a need to obtain it.

CMS has considerable experience in domain name recovery and online brand protection issues, and we have an account with the RDRS. Please reach out should you require assistance.