CENTRE FOR COMMUNICATION GOVERNANCE AT NATIONAL LAW UNIVERSITY, DELHI

.IN-The Basics1 India has its own ccTLD, the .in. Country Code Top-Level Domains or ccTLDs are twoletter Internet top-level domains (TLDs) that are designated to a particular country, sovereign state or autonomous territory. These ccTLDs are based mostly on the ISO 3166 list of country codes. These ccTLDs correspond to the two letter abbreviations contained therein such as .dk for Denmark or .au for Australia. There are however some ccTLDs that are not provided for in the ISO 3166 list. The reason behind having ccTLDs (and now Internationalized Domain Names) is to facilitate and promote the spread of Internet globally. The .in like many other ccTLDS has chosen not to restrict the use of the ccTLD to only people in India, anyone, anywhere can register for a .in domain. Not only can one with no qualifications register for a .in but even second-level domain names like the .co.in or the .org.in are available to all. However there are some domain names that are reserved for qualified organizations in India, like the .ac.in for academic institutions and .gov.in for government bodies. India’s ccTLD is currently managed by the .IN Registry at the National Internet Exchange of India or NIXI. NIXI is a not-for-Profit Company incorporated under Section 25 of the Indian Companies Act, 1956 to facilitate improved internet services in the country. NIXI was promoted by the Department of Information Technology in association with the Internet Service Providers Association of India (ISPAI). The IN Registry ensures the operational SSR (stability, security and reliability) of the .in ccTLD and implements policies                                                                                                                         1 Or as GoDaddy advertises, “Be part of the .IN crowd”. The memo has been drafted by Madhulika Srikumar, Research Assistant, CCG and a final year student of Gujarat National Law University.

of DeitY. The registration for the .in ccTLD as facilitated by the Registry is through its accredited registrars all over the world. One such accredited registrar for instance is in.godaddy.com.

CDAC NCST National Centre for Software Technology

Centre for Development of Advanced Computing

NIXI National Internet Exchange of India

Delegation of .in ccTLD

IANA (Internet Assigned Numbers Authority) started out with the implementation of ccTLDs, with global policies regarding operation of ccTLDs and its delegation being originally developed by them in the late 1980s (the delegation and creation of ccTLDs is presented within RFC 1951). IANA delegates the ccTLDs to designated managers who operate the TLDs according to local policies to best suit the country’s needs. Also ICANN, since 2000 has been working with managers of ccTLDs to document their relationship with ICANN. This relationship has been noted to be a “complicated” one considering the different practices followed by managers in different countries and the role of national governments in establishing policy for their ccTLDs. In India before NIXI took over, it was observed that the .in domain had a lot of growth potential that was left untapped. It was recognized that a more proactive policy would be required to ensure the proliferation of the .in domain and further to catapult the .in to global prominence. There were only 7000 registrations for the .in domain between 1992 and 2004, after which NIXI was appointed as the national registry by an order of the Secretary of the Department of Information Technology on 20th November, 2004. The .in domain was initially delegated in the DNS root zone in 1989 to the then sponsoring organization the National Centre for Software Technology (NCST). Subsequently in 2002, NCST was merged into the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC), a

scientific research and development institution of the Ministry of Information Technology. However, no application was made to ICANN to transfer operation of .IN to this new entity. C-DAC managed and operated the .in registry until December of 2004. While C-DAC no longer had any direct operational role with .in management, the official request for redelegation to NIXI was submitted to ICANN only on 18th September 2009. Ever since NIXI came into place, it is clear that there has been an increase in .in registrations. As of October 2011, the number had surpassed 1 million domain names. The Registry sets wholesale prices for registrars which are to be paid annually for registration, transfer and (auto) renewal. Further the accredited registrars can set retail prices as they please. The whole sale price for the .in (only second level domain) is ₹350 and godaddy.com retails it for ₹199. The following image presents the lifecycle of the .in registration-

As found in https://www.registry.in/

INDRP Policy Domain name disputes concerning the .in are governed by the .IN Dispute Resolution Policy or the INDRP established by the .IN Registry. The INDRP has procedures similar to ICANN’s Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP) which governs domain

name disputes pertaining to generic top-level domains (gTLDs). The INDRP has also been formulated in line with the Indian IT Act 2000. It is required under this policy that complainants/registrants submit their dispute to a compulsory arbitration and the awards are binding under the Arbitration and Conciliation Act 1996. Relevant documents for a .in domain name dispute include the INDRP and the INDRP Rules of Procedure. The former provides for the nature of disputes that can be brought to arbitration and how the same shall be considered. The latter document details the procedure when it comes to filing a complaint, response to complaint, fees etc. The number of recorded disputes as of July, 2015 (starting April, 2006) is 678 in number.2 To bring a dispute under the INDRP, the complainant must satisfy the following(i) The domain name must be similar to the complainant’s trademark; (ii) The registrant must not have rights or legitimate interests in respect of the domain name; (iii) The domain name must be registered and/or used in bad faith. Difference between the UDRP and INDRP Policies While the UDRP requires that the above three criteria all be present when making a complaint, the same is not the case with INDRP. There is the absence of “and” between the first two criteria therefore only requiring that either of the circumstances be proven in a given case. There is however an “and” between the second and third grounds requiring that both need to be proven if either of the grounds are claimed by the complainant. This results in a scenario where a registrant/complainant need not prove bad faith registration to succeed and can merely rely on the first criterion that the respondent’s domain name is similar to the complainant’s. The Delhi High Court in 2011 decided in favour of this above interpretation resulting in a different approach taken by the Indian domain name resolution policy compared to other countries.3 Interestingly the disputed domain name in this dispute was internet.in which                                                                                                                         2 The pending decisions can be found here; List of arbitrators chosen by NIXI can be found here. 3 Stephen Koenig v. Arbitrator, National Internet Exchange of India (Nixi) & Anr. 2012 (49) PTC 304 (Del). Discussion on the case can be found here, article points out that this decision eviscerates the distinction between standard trademark disputes and domain name disputes.

was registered by the respondent in relation to tobacco products, the Court here ordered that the same be struck off the Register.

INDRP  

UDRP  

• Complainant need not prove bad faith • Sole Arbitrator • Seprate complaint for disputes relating to each domain name (Rule 3(c)) • No provision on approaching civil courts

• Complainant needs to prove bad faith • 1-3 panellists • Consolidated complaint allowed • Allows for approaching courts (Rule 4k)

Differences between the polices

Another distinction between the two policies can be found when the UDRP specifically allows for parties to approach courts of competent jurisdiction as well to seek remedy. This is not addressed in the Indian policy and instead has been decided by the Delhi High Court in 2006 in the case of Citi Corp and Another vs. Todi Investors and Another.

4

The Court

here decided that civil courts shall have jurisdiction to deal with .in disputes as the INDRP does not exclude civil courts and the arbitration provided under the policy is only an alternate remedy. The arbitral decisions made under INDRP play the important role of balancing interests between trademark holders and those choosing to obtain a legitimate .in registration. It can be observed that the arbitral awards favour the rights of the former over the latter.5 For instance in the case of Bloomberg Finance where it was held that the respondent’s www.bloomberg.net.in was registered in bad faith and the domain name be returned to the complainant. Or in the case of Starbucks Corporation where the domain name www.starbucks.co.in belonging to the respondent was found to be confusingly similar to the complainant’s domain name. So if you were now to click on the hyperlink of this disputed domain, it will lead you to the website of Starbucks.

                                                                                                                        4 2006 (33) PTC 631 Del. 5 The .IN Policy Framework can be found here. For differences between INDRP and UDRP, read this. For more on the dispute resolution, read this, this and this.

It can be concluded that over the past nine years the INDRP has succeeded in effectively handling domain name disputes pertaining to India’s ccTLD considering there are not many pending decisions. The arbitration under INDRP has not attracted a lot of attention or criticism and that may or may not be a testament to its success. Increasing the rate of internet penetration is a priority as evidenced with the recently announced Digital India initiative and understanding the processes surrounding ccTLD registration in India can prove to be useful in accomplishing the same.

(CCG-NLUD) Memo on the basics of the .IN Domain.pdf ...

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