Trade Marks on the Internet copyright 1996-2003; last updated August 14, 2003

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Registering a .CA Domain Name

A .ca domain name can be registered with any one of the registrars approved by CIRA. Select a .ca domain name and do a WhoIs? seach on CIRA’s homepage to find out if that domain name has already been registered. If not, it may be registered, subject to the rules. The entire process occurs online.

.ca domain name registrations must be made in accordance with the Registration Rules and applicants must meet certain Canadian presence requirements (basically, .ca registrants are required to be Canadian citizens, permanent residents or businesses which operate in Canada and are governed by Canadian laws). The length of .ca registrations can range from one to ten years. Third (provincial) and fourth (municipal or city) level domain names are also available, for example and these domain name spaces can be administered by the corresponding level of government. CIRA will not allow a top level domain name to conflict with a second or third level domain name. – only can register, and so on. CIRA can, in its sole discretion, reject and refuse to register, cancel or suspend a domain name. CIRA gives domain name registrants the freedom to switch registrars and modify the information about their domain name.


Domain names are valuable assets. They can be bought and sold. Although their characterization as "property" remains unclear16, a domain name registration entitles the registrant to exclusive use of the domain name unless and until that right is revoked by the registry. Each registry has established a process for transferring a domain name. Depending on the consideration involved, a domain name transfer should probably be supported by a domain name transfer agreement.

Transferring a .com, .net or .org Registration

Domain names registered in the .com, .net or .org registries can be transferred by completing a form online.

Transferring a .CA Registration

Section 11 of CIRA's domain name Registration Rules sets out the process for transferring a .ca registration. The process is conducted electronically. First the transferor sends a request to have the domain name transferred to its registrar. The transfer request is then forwarded to CIRA who confirms the transfer request directly with the transferor. Once confirmed, the transferee must have its registrar submit a transfer request to CIRA – this will, again, be confirmed by CIRA. Ultimately, CIRA will affect the transfer. You cannot have a domain name transferred to you unless you have already signed the Registrant Agreement.


In the last year, for the first time (and – not surprisingly – coincident with the dot com meltdown of 2001), the number of domain names registered worldwide has decreased. A year ago, over 32 million domain names were registered worldwide (13 million more than the year before). Currently, however, the statistics available at indicate that there are just over 30 million domain name registrations worldwide. This may be attributable to the fact that speculators in domain names, cyber squatters, are not renewing their registrations.

As a condition of registration, each domain name registry requires an applicant to agree to be bound by a domain name dispute resolution policy. The object of these policies is to ensure that domain names are distributed equitably. Effective domain name dispute resolution policies recognize that, in certain instances, trade mark owners might have a better claim to a domain name than the registrant.

Domain name disputes can be broadly categorized into six different situations: cybersquatting, legitimate use, trade-mark infringement, typosquatting, protest and parody sites and reverse domain name hijacking.


Cybersquatting (now called "abusive registration" by WIPO) prevailed at a time when domain names were handed out exclusively on a first-come, first-serve basis and trade mark owners had not aggressively pursued domain name registrations for their principle marks. It still goes on because no one is required to show that he or she is entitled to register a domain name before doing so. A cybersquatter deliberately, and in bad faith, preemptively registers a domain name in which it has no legitimate interest and in violation of the rights of a trade mark owner. The cybersquatter then holds the trade mark owner to ransom offering to sell the domain name for a cost that is less than what it would cost to recover the domain name through litigation ($10,000 or more).

Examples of cybersquatting include:

  • registration of the domain name "" by the Xinhua news agency of the People's Republic of China;

  • registration of the domain name "" by the organization People Eating Tasty Animals before an application by the organization People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals;

  • Joshua Quitner’s article describing a journalist’s registration of in “Billions Registered”: Right Now. There Are No. Rules to Keep You From Owing a Bitchin’ Corporate Name as Your Own Internet Address”, Wired, Oct. 1994

Initially, the response of trade mark owners to cybersquatters was to bring actions for trade mark infringement, trade mark dilution and passing off. Both ICANN and the U.S. Congress added new weapons to the trade mark owner’s armory. A cybersquatter may now be subject to suit under the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act and may be subject to arbitration proceedings under ICANN’s Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (“UDRP”).

Despite these additional remedies, cybersquatting is still rampant. The is principally attributable to the fact that cybersquatters know that it is often more cost effective for a trade mark owner to pay a cybersquatter a reasonable ransom than it is to pursue legal remedies.

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