Like anything that has value, domain names can be the subject of disputes, which is why dispute resolution procedures have been developed by domain registries, based on World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) rules.

But even though these procedures are designed to be less expensive than going to court, the advantage of professional legal advice can make a big difference for participants. That is why NIC Chile, which manages the .CL country code registry has developed a unique partnership with Chilean universities, to set up free legal clinics to help participants who are disadvantaged in this way.

“When there is a dispute confronting natural and legal persons – the latter generally represented by a legal firm – there is an imbalanced situation being produced when defending a domain name holder, who naturally looks and feels weaker in the arbitration proceeding due to the lack of legal advice on how to proceed during trial and in the defense of their rights”

Margarita Valdés Cortés, Lawyer, NIC Chile, and Humberto Carrasco Blanc, Professor, Universidad Católica del Norte

One of the universities participating is Universidad Católica del Norte. Humberto Carrasco is an associate professor there, and the director of the student law clinic providing the legal assistance. He is our guest on today’s podcast.

Click on the player below to play the podcast, or download it here: 18:04; 10MB; MP3.

As well ‘levelling the field’ for litigants, Humberto explains, the scheme is offering valuable experience to students, and progressing academic research.

“I think it’s a win-win deal at the end, because I’m talking about the point of view of the University, of my students … because we are not in the capital of Chile, for example, we are 500 km from Santiago. So, our students have an enormous opportunity to get involved in these cases. Usually people located in Santiago used to work in these kinds of legal disputes, but now we are expanding the spheres to our students, giving them the opportunity to get involved in this amazing world of domain names and trademarks, on the one side.

On the other side, we try to get research, we try to follow the decisions, we are trying to write articles; we are writing theses … we are developing the doctrine in some way. We are adding knowledge to this doctrine in domain names”

Humbert Carrasco, Associate Professor, Universidad Católica del Norte

Humberto explains the principles involved in approving clients to receive the services of their clinic.

We don’t represent cyber-squatters. This is our principle. We only represent people who are defending entrepreneurs, people who are defending freedom of expression … this is our first filter … if they are a big corporation we don’t take the case, because they have the money to pay a lawyer

The programme in Chile has been a success, and there is an initiative underway through ICANN to extend the programme to generic top-level domains (gTLDs).

We believe there is a strong interest from people who are related to the civil society … Margareta [Valdez of NIC Chile] has been talking to the wider people and they are very willing to help with the expansion of the programe in the future. So we believe maybe in one year maybe we can have some news in order to expand, or to have a new clinic, maybe in the US or maybe in Europe, with people who can help end users against legal disputes

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