By Lucy Rana and Sanjana Kala
The operation, maintenance and technical administration of internet domain name space for Pakistan’s country-code top-level domain ‘.pk’ is undertaken by the Pakistan Network Information Centre (PKNIC). 
PKNIC being cognizant of the need for such assistance attempted to initiate such a service but due to deficiency of technological and legal expertise in this field, PKNIC entered into an understanding with the Domain Name Dispute Resolution Center (DNDRC) for the provision of DNDRC’s service to .pk ccTLD users. In this regard, the Hong Kong International Arbitration Center (HKIAC) played a key role in the establishment of the DNDRC in Pakistan for .pk ccTLDs.
Disputes over the right to use a particular domain name in Pakistan may be settled either through the usual legal channels (i.e. courts) or through the DNDRC. The DNDRC is the sole provider of dispute resolution services or domain name recovery services for ‘.pk’ domain names in Pakistan which are carried out in accordance with the PKNIC Internet Domain Registration Policy, the ICANN Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy and accompanying rules, and the DNDRC Supplemental Rules. It adopts mandatory, final and binding arbitration as the method to resolve disputes with respect to .pk domain names.
Pakistan Domain Name Recovery: Process
The dispute resolution process in this regard has been enumerated below:
A party files a domain name Complaint with the DNDRC in accordance with the appropriate policy and Supplemental Rules. A copy is sent to the disputed domain name’s registrant as well as registrar.
Once the Complaint is filed, DNDRC reviews it for administrative compliance. The Complainant has to bring the Complaint into compliance with the rules or the Complaint will be dismissed.
Once the Complaint has been processed and accepted by DNDRC, the administrative proceedings are commenced, after which the Respondent has to file a written response with DNDRC in accordance with the appropriate policy and Supplemental Rules.
If the Respondent does not provide a written response, the deciding panel will only consider the Complainant’s submissions.
Each party may submit one additional submission following DNDRC’s acceptance of the response.
Arbitrator is appointed to examine the case, and issue the Decision
The panel reviews the Complaint and the Response, and has the discretion to review any additional submissions from the parties.
The panel issues a decision. The decision is published by DNDRC and communicated to the parties, the registrar, and the appropriate Internet body (such as PKNIC or ICANN)
Timeline for Domain Name Dispute Resolution
The timeline for the dispute resolution process under DNDRCs Supplementary Rules has been enumerated below:
- Filling of Complaint by the Complainant.
- The Complainant shall rectify any deficiencies identified by the Office of the Center within five (5) days.
- The Office of the Center shall forward the Complaint to the Respondent(s) within three (3) days.
- The administrative proceedings will be deemed to have commenced on the date on which the Office of the Center forwards the Complaint to the Respondent(s).
- From the date of commencement of the administrative proceedings, the Respondent shall submit a Response within seven (7) days and provide the Complainant the copy of the same.
- The Panel shall forward its decision to the Office of the Center within fourteen (14) days of its appointment.
- The Office of the Center shall within three (3) days of its receipt of a decision from the Panelist forwards copies by email of the decision to the Parties, PKNIC and if deemed appropriate by PKNIC, the concerned Registrar(s).
In DNDRC’s landmark case of Standard Chartered PLC v. Hosting Campus Domain (case no. C2007- 0001), it laid down the following four heads under which cases are to be analyzed, under the PKNIC – Internet Domain Registration Policy and the UDRP:
- Illegality, unlawfulness or otherwise invalidity of the Application & Registration (a criteria in terms of the PKNIC – Internet Domain Registration Policy June 20, 2006 version 4.1 in addition to the criteria of the UDRP);
- Identical or confusing similarity to a trademark or service mark in which the Complainant has rights (a UDRP criteria);
- Legitimate interest in Domain Name (a UDRP criteria);
- Registration and use in bad faith (a UDRP criteria).
Pros and Cons
The DNDRC takes into consideration complaints against domain names with ‘.pk’ ccTLDs which are either a result of cyber-squatting or by habitual infringer of intellectual property rights. The remedy for the right owner is either resorting to filing a civil suit in a court of law or filing a complaint before the DNDRC. Further, if the Complainant is successful in establishing its case against the unlawful domain, the domain is consequently transferred to the Complainant. Some of the benefits of the DNDRC have been mentioned below:
- Given that no formal hearings are required to be undertaken by the Arbitrator, the procedure before the DNDRC is largely convenient;
- The DNDRC process is usually decided within 4-6 months which is comparatively a speedy remedy when compared to proceedings before a court of law;
- The costs involved in a dispute before the DNDRC are far lower as compared to a legal proceeding in a court of law.
It is an easy to approach, efficacious and result oriented forum which has resolved a number of disputes regarding use of infringing .pk domains.
|Total number of cases (as available on the DNDRC’s website)||51|
|Cases Decided in favour of Complainant||51|
|Cases Decided in favour of Respondent||0|
From the data available on the DNDRC’s website, it appears that 100% of disputes under the DNDRC have been decided in the right holder’s favor. The complete list and details pertaining to each case are available at the Center’s website here.
TRADEMARK APPLICATIONS PAKISTAN