The number of Internet domain names under dispute saw a rise in 2009, the World Intellectual Property Organization said Tuesday.

The Geneva-based organisation dealt with claims on 4,688 domains last year, up from 3,985 the year before. The total caseload, however, declined by 9.5 per cent, as many incidents involved multiple attempts to “squat.”

Cybersquatting is defined as “the abusive registration of trademarks as domain names.” Last year, parties based in 114 countries were named in disputes, a 10 per cent rise on 2008, and nearly all cases involved the “.com” option on domain names, followed by “.net” in a far second.

The U.S., France, Britain, Germany, Switzerland and Spain were the most frequent bases for complainants. The U.S., Britain, Canada, Spain and South Korea were the most common respondents, WIPO said.

In dealing with the cases, WIPO tribunals transferred the domain name in 87 per cent of cases and only in 13 per cent denied the complaints.

The WIPO system, under way for the last decade, is considered a cheaper alternative to court litigation.

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