• Domain Services
  • Trademark Services
  • Support

How Domain Conflict Resolution Works for the .US Top-Level Domain

Table of Content

About the .US Domain
Surge in Domain Name Disputes 
Who Handles Domain Conflict Resolution in the US? 
How is Domain Conflict Resolution Handled in the US? 
What Type of Conflicts may Occur? 
Filing a Complaint 
Enforcement of the Decision
7-Step Guide to the .US Dispute Resolution Process


The Third Industrial Revolution revolutionized the world with groundbreaking technologies, and the Internet stands out as the most transformative. This innovation has reshaped our lives, revolutionizing communication and business practices. The Internet has unlocked vast opportunities for businesses and individuals to sell products and market online. However, it has also led to a surge in disputes, particularly those involving domain names and intellectual property.
To safeguard domain owners' and intellectual property rights, WIPO (World International Property Organization) introduced the Uniform Domain-Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP). This policy provides a legal framework for resolving conflicts arising from bad faith domain name registrations that infringe on trademarks or corporate names. Yet it does not have jurisdiction over certain country code top-level domains (ccTLDs) specific to countries, such as .us for the United States, which are handled through the usDRP by an approved dispute resolution service provider.
This article explores how the .us domain, the country code top-level domain (ccTLD) for the United States, fits into this landscape. While the .us domain isn't as widely used as popular TLDs such as .com, it holds a unique position, especially for U.S.-based entities. Despite its smaller market share, the .us domain has its own specific dispute resolution policies, tailored to the distinct needs and regulations of the United States. Understanding the intricacies of the .us domain and its conflict resolution mechanisms is vital for anyone engaged in the digital and e-commerce landscape and concerned about safeguarding their brand identity and intellectual property rights.

About the .US Domain 

The .us domain is exclusively open to individuals and entities tied to the United States. To register a domain with this extension, one must be either a citizen, resident, organization, or foreign entity with U.S. connections. 
In the United States, there are approximately 140.4 million registered domains, constituting 18.86% of the global market. However, .us domains make up only 1.29% of these with around 1.8 million .us domain registrations.

Surge in Domain Name Disputes 

The COVID-19 pandemic led to a significant rise in domain name disputes, according to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). In 2021, WIPO handled 5,128 cases, marking a 22% increase from the previous year and continuing a trend of sharp increases in recent years. This surge is also reflected in other domain name dispute resolution providers. For example, the US-based mediation and arbitration center, FORUM, issued 2,057 top-level domain name dispute UDRP decisions in 2021, representing a 16% increase from the previous year.
This trend extends to cases relating to .us domains. There were 96 cases filed with FORUM in 2023, a 48% increase compared to 2022.
Nevertheless, although 33% of the total number of cases worldwide in 2023 were filed from North America, the relatively low number of .us domain disputes can be attributed to the .us domain's structure, management and the comprehensive efforts to maintain its integrity and reliability: 

  1. US Connection: Its registration rules require a connection to the United States, such as citizenship or being a U.S.-based organization. This reduces speculative registrations that often lead to disputes.

  2. Local or regional identity: .us domains are mainly used by entities focusing on local or regional identity, such as local governments and businesses targeting U.S. audiences, leading to fewer branding issues.

  3. Lower popularity: .us domains are less popular than alternatives like .com, which naturally reduces the chance of conflicts. This means lower global awareness resulting in fewer cases of brand infringement or domain squatting.

Figure 1. Percentage of Domain Dispute Cases Filed per Region. Source: InternetX 2024.


Who Handles Domain Conflict Resolution in the US? 

Although WIPO handles most domain disputes, it does not have jurisdiction over certain country code top-level domains (ccTLDs) such as .us for the United States. These are often overseen by independent governing bodies. For instance, disputes for .us domain names are handled through the usDRP by the the approved dispute resolution service provider, the Alternative Dispute Resolution Forum.
FORUM manages .us domain disputes through a localized version of the established UDRP procedures, ensuring that conflicts over .us domain registrations are resolved efficiently and fairly. The mechanism is used to request the cancellation or transfer of a .us domain name that infringes on the Complainant's trademark.

How is Domain Conflict Resolution Handled in the US? 

The usDRP is similar to the international UDRP in both process and policy but with two key differences:

  1. Legitimate Interests: A respondent can demonstrate legitimate rights by showing they are the owner or beneficiary of a trademark identical to the domain name.

  2. Bad Faith: The usDRP uses "or" instead of "and" in its bad faith criteria, making it easier to establish bad faith.

The .us TLD (Top-Level Domain) has three main dispute resolution policies to address different types of conflicts. These also apply to second level domains such as .city.us and .company.us. Each of these approaches is handled by the Alternative Dispute Resolution Forum.

  1. usDRP (usTLD Dispute Resolution Policy): The usDRP addresses disputes related to the registration of .us domain names, particularly issues involving trademark infringement. It is designed to resolve disputes in a fair, efficient, and cost-effective manner. Its goal is to provide a quick and easy way for trademark holders to protect their rights in .us domains and to prevent cybersquatting and other abusive activities. The usDRP is modeled on the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP), which is used for resolving disputes over generic top-level domains such as .com. In particular, the usDRP is designed to resolve cases where a domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which the complainant has rights, the domain name registrant has no legitimate interest in the domain name, and the domain name is registered and used in bad faith.

  2. usNDP (usTLD Nexus Dispute Policy): The usNDP deals with disputes regarding the Nexus Requirements, which mandate that .us domain registrants have a bona fide presence in the United States. This policy ensures that domain registrants meet the Nexus Requirements, such as being a U.S. citizen or resident, or an organization incorporated in the U.S. If a domain name is found to be registered in violation of these requirements, it can be challenged. Disputes are reviewed to verify if the registrant meets the Nexus Requirements. If not, the domain name may be suspended or deleted.

  3. usRS (usTLD Rapid Suspension): In July 2014, Neustar introduced a Uniform Rapid Suspension (URS) policy, allowing trademark owners to quickly address domain infringements. The usRS, akin to the URS (Uniform Rapid Suspension) system used in other TLDs, provides a fast and cost-effective mechanism to handle clear cases of trademark infringement. The usRS is designed to quickly suspend domain names that are blatantly infringing on trademarks. This policy is useful for cases where there is no doubt about the bad faith and abusive registration of the domain. Trademark owners can file a complaint, and if there is clear evidence of infringement, the domain name can be suspended quickly, often within days, providing an expedited remedy compared to the usDRP.

In summary, each of the three policies (usDRP, usNDP, and usRS) have a distinct focus in addressing different types of disputes involving .us domain names: usDRP on trademark-related disputes, usNDP on compliance with Nexus Requirements, and usRS on rapid suspension for clear cases of trademark infringement.

What Type of Conflicts may Occur? 

For the .us domain, several types of conflicts can occur, each addressed by specific policies and procedures. Here are the main types of conflicts:
1. Trademark Infringement: Conflicts arise when a domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a registered trademark. The domain may have been registered in bad faith with the intent to profit from the trademark owner's brand.
Resolution: The usDRP allows for a structured arbitration process to resolve these disputes, while the usRS provides a quicker suspension mechanism for clear-cut cases of infringement.
2. Nexus Requirement Violations: The .us domain requires registrants to have a legitimate connection to the United States. Conflicts occur when a registrant is suspected of not meeting these requirements, such as not being a U.S. citizen, resident, or having a bona fide presence in the U.S.
Resolution: Disputes are reviewed to confirm the registrant's eligibility. If the registrant does not meet the Nexus Requirements, the domain name may be suspended or deleted.
3. Cybersquatting:  This involves registering, trafficking, or using a domain name with the intent to sell it to the trademark owner or profit from the trademark owner’s brand, often in bad faith.
Resolution: The usDRP provides a formal process to resolve such issues, and in clear cases, the usRS can be used for rapid suspension.
4. Other Registration Policy Violations:  Includes conflicts arising from violations of the .us domain registration policies, such as providing false information during registration.
Resolution: These conflicts are handled through verification and enforcement of registration policies, potentially leading to suspension or deletion of the domain.
In each case, the designated dispute resolution service provider, FORUM plays a key role in managing and resolving these conflicts according to the applicable policies.

Figure 2. Online Complaint Form. Source: ADRForum 2024.

Filing a Complaint 

Anyone can file a complaint about a domain name by filling out a form online and submitting with all the relevant documentation to  domaindispute@adrforum.com. The complaint should include: (1) how the domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark the complainant owns; (2) why the respondent doesn’t have rights or legitimate interests in the domain name; and (3) why the domain name was registered and is being used in bad faith.

Administrative Panel: A panel appointed by the usDRSP adjudicates domain name disputes. Complainants can choose between Single-member or Three-member Panel, with respective fee variations. The Panelists, who are experts in intellectual property law, electronic commerce, and the internet, are selected from the provider's publicly available list. Each provider publishes this list along with the panelists’ qualifications. 

Enforcement of the Decision

All cases are handled by the Alternative Dispute Resolution Forum. In 2023, nearly 100 cases were filed, with 97% ruled in favor of the complainants.
This streamlined process and favorable resolution rate make the usDRP an effective mechanism for resolving .us domain disputes.

Typically, the usDRP proceedings take between 60 to 70 days between the time of filing a complaint and enforcement of the decision, which may involve cancellation or transfer of the domain to the complainant.


  1. Rise in Domain Name Disputes: since the COVID-19 pandemic the number of domain name disputes has significantly increased.

  2. Unique .us Domain Policies: The .us domain, while not as widely used as .com, has distinct dispute resolution policies (usDRP, usNDP, and usRS) tailored to U.S. entities, focusing on maintaining the domain's integrity and reliability.

  3. Low Conflict Incidence: The .us domain has fewer disputes due to stringent registration requirements, a focus on local/regional identity, and lower global awareness compared to domains like .com, reducing the likelihood of brand infringement or domain squatting.

  4. Efficient Resolution Mechanisms: Disputes involving .us domains are resolved efficiently through the usDRP, managed by the Alternative Dispute Resolution Forum (FORUM), with most cases favoring the complainant.

  5. Comprehensive Protection: The usDRP proceedings typically take 60 to 70 days, providing a swift resolution process, ensuring that U.S.-based entities can protect their trademarks and domain names effectively.


7-Step Guide to the .US Dispute Resolution Process

Step 1: Identify Domain Name Infringement

Determine if the .us domain name in question infringes on your trademark or intellectual property rights. Gather evidence showing how the domain name is identical or confusingly similar to your trademark and how it has been registered and used in bad faith.

Step 2: Complaint Submission and Payment

File a complaint with the Alternative Dispute Resolution Forum (FORUM) by completing the necessary forms and submitting the required documentation. Pay the applicable fees, which vary depending on whether you choose a single-member or three-member panel.

Step 3: Compliance Check

Timeline: 1-3 Days
FORUM conducts a preliminary compliance check to ensure the complaint meets the usDRP requirements. This includes verifying that all necessary information and documentation have been provided.

Step 4: Notification to Respondent

Timeline: 3-5 Days
FORUM notifies the respondent (domain name holder) of the complaint. The respondent is given a specific period to respond, typically 20 days, providing their defense or evidence of legitimate rights and interests in the domain name.

Step 5: Mediation

Timeline: 10-15 Days
In some cases, there may be an attempt to resolve the dispute through mediation before moving to arbitration. This step aims to facilitate a mutually agreeable settlement between the complainant and the respondent.

Step 6: Expert Arbitration

Timeline: 30-45 Days
If mediation is unsuccessful or bypassed, the case moves to arbitration. An expert panel (single-member or three-member) reviews the evidence from both parties. The panelists are selected from FORUM’s list of experienced practitioners in intellectual property law, electronic commerce, and the internet.

Step 7: Enforcement of Decision

Timeline: 5-10 Days
The final decision is enforced by FORUM. If the complainant wins, the .us domain name may be transferred or canceled. The entire process, from filing the complaint to enforcement of the decision, typically takes 60 to 70 days.
By following these steps, you can navigate the .us dispute resolution process effectively, ensuring a fair and timely resolution to domain name conflicts.

(Timeline: 60 to 70 days in total).

Figure 3. Typical Stage in UDRP procedure.