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Civil Disputes over Domain Names on Computer Network

Judicial Interpretation by the Supreme People's Court on Several Issues Relating to Application of Law in Adjudication of Cases of Civil Disputes over Domain Names on Computer Network

 

(Adopted at the 1182nd Meeting of the Adjudication Committee of the Supreme People's Court on June 26, 2001 and came into force on July 24, 2001)

 

For the purpose of properly adjudicating cases of civil disputes over acts of registration and use of domain names on the computer network (hereinafter referred to as the cases of domain name disputes), this Interpretation is hereby made as to the following matters in accordance with the General Principles of the Civil Law of the People's Republic of China (hereinafter referred to as the General Principles of the Civil Law), the Anti-Unfair Competition Law of the People's Republic of China (hereinafter referred to as the Anti-Unfair Competition Law) and the Civil Procedure Law of the People's Republic of China (hereinafter referred to as the Civil Procedure Law):

Article 1.
 The People's Court should accept cases of civil disputes relating to the acts of registration or use of domain names on computer network, raised by the interested parties and found in conformity with Article 108 of the Civil Procedure Law upon examination.

 

Article 2. Cases of domain name infringement disputes shall be under the jurisdiction of the Intermediate People's Court in the place, where the acts of infringement have been conducted, or the place where the defendant has his/its domicile. Where it is difficult to determine the place where the acts of infringement have been conducted or the place where the defendant has his/its domicile, the place where the plaintiff finds the computer terminal and other equipment related to the domain name in question should be deemed as the place where the acts of infringement have been conducted.

Foreign-related cases of domain name disputes include those, in which one or both of the interested parties are foreign nationals, stateless persons, foreign enterprises or organizations or international organizations, or in which the domain names in question are registered overseas. The jurisdiction over foreign-related cases of domain name disputes should be determined in accordance with provisions in Chapter 4 of the Civil Procedure Law.

 

Article 3. The cause of action of domain name disputes shall be determined according to the nature of the legal relation incurred between the two parties at issue. Such cases shall be named beginning with the phrase of "computer network domain name dispute". Where it is difficult to determine the nature of the disputes, they may be named as generally as computer network domain name dispute case.

 

Article 4. Where a case of domain name disputes falls under the following circumstances, the People's Court handling it should determine that the acts of registration or use of the domain name in question constitute acts of infringement or unfair competition: 
1. The civil right the plaintiff seeks for protection is legitimate and valid; 
2. The domain name held by the defendant or the main part thereof constitutes the reproduction, imitation, translation or transliteration of the well-known trademark owned by the plaintiff, or is identical with or similar to the registered trademark or domain name of the plaintiff, leading to the likelihood of confusion on the part of relevant public; 
3. The defendant has no legitimate right over the domain name in question or the main part thereof, nor does he/it has justifiable reasons for the registration or use of the domain name in question; 
4. The defendant registers and uses the domain name in question in bad faith. 

 

Article 5. Where the acts of the defendant fall into one of the following situations, the People's Court should determine that he/it has acted in bad faith:
1. Registering the well-known trademark owned by others as a domain name for commercial purpose; 
2. Registering or using domain name identical with or similar to the registered trademark or domain name of the plaintiff, with the intention to cause confusion with the products or services the plaintiff provides or the website it holds, so as to mislead the network users to visit his/its website or other site online; 
3. Having ever offered the domain name for sale or rental, or transferring in any other manner at a high price to obtain unlawful interests;
4. Neither using nor preparing to use the domain name in question after the registration thereof, but intentionally prevent the right holder from registering it; 
5. Acting in any other manner in bad faith. 
Where the defendant proves that before the dispute arises, the domain name he/it owns has acquired certain fame, and can be distinguished from the registered trademark or domain name of the plaintiff, or has any other justifiable reasons to show that he/it has not acted in bad faith, the People's Court may determine that the defendant has not acted in bad faith. 

 

Article 6. The People's Court handling cases of domain name disputes may, upon the request of the interested parties or in view of the specific circumstances of the case concerned, determine whether the registered trademark in question is well-known or not in accordance with relevant laws or regulations.

 

Article 7. The People's Court in the cause of handling cases of domain name disputes may apply proper laws or regulations, when the cases fall into the circumstances stipulated in Article 4 of this Interpretation and is determined as constituting infringement according to relevant laws and regulations; and where acts of unfair competition are constituted, Article 4 of the General Principles of the Civil Law, Article 2, paragraph 1 of the Anti-Unfair Competition Law may be applied.

Foreign-related cases of domain name disputes may be handled in accordance with relevant provisions in Chapter 8 of the General Principles of the Civil Law.

 

Article 8. The People's Court, when determining that the acts of registration or use of a domain name constitute acts of infringement or unfair competition, may order the defendant to stop the acts of infringement or cancel the domain name in question; or order the domain name to be registered or used by the plaintiff upon the request thereof. In case actual damages have been caused to the right holder, the People's Court may order the defendant to compensate therefor.

(Note: This is a non-official translation. In case of discrepancy, the original version in Chinese will prevail. )