• Kyodo

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The World Intellectual Property Organization will increase the number of Japanese arbitrators in order to handle future disputes on Internet domain names to be registered in Japanese, a WIPO official said Tuesday.

“We are increasing the number of Japanese arbitrators from three to six or seven,” Yoshiro Takagi, director at WIPO’s Office of Strategic Planning and Policy Development, said in a briefing for Japanese reporters.

While Internet addresses have all along been expressed in Roman alphabets, registration of domain names with a combination of Chinese characters and Japanese syllabaries will be possible starting as early as next year.

“When we deal with disputes in a certain language, the arbitrators need to have a good knowledge of cultural background in it,” Takagi said.

The Geneva-based intellectual property watchdog has faced a flood of complaints about abuse of Internet domain names since it launched the domain name settlement system last December.

According to WIPO officials, more than 1,000 cases have been filed with the organization, and most of the disputes have so far been handled in English.

“As Internet becomes popular in non-English-speaking countries, there will be cases (when) we have to deal with non-English disputes,” Takagi said.

The decision of whether to “transfer” a domain name to a complainant is made by an arbitrator from a third country not linked with the complainant or the respondent — the equivalent of a defendant in a lawsuit.

Past disputes involving Japan include a complaint filed by Sanrio Corp.’s popular dog character Pochakko. WIPO upheld Sanrio’s claims and ordered the transfer of a domain name using the dog’s name to Sanrio.

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