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21 University of Pennsylvania Journal of International Economic Law 523 (2000)


In today's dynamic, digital economy, there is a global clash between geographically bounded intellectual property rights and the limitless reach of the Internet. Traditionally, discrepancies in international intellectual property rights, such as trademark disputes, have been resolved through time-consuming, multilateral state-to-state treaty negotiations that have global harmonization as the primary goal.

With the explosion of e-commerce and the birth of a New Economy, however, such a traditional process is no longer economically viable. Instead, a new approach towards international intellectual property is fast emerging - one that rests not on treaties between multiple states, but on the private contracting of individuals and the social norms of the cyberspace community.

This article explores how this new approach of private ordering and Internet social norms operates in the arena of international trademark disputes. The Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy recently established by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers provides an example of how private contracts have come to replace the sovereignty of nation-states in the resolution of international trademark disputes. Analyzing this new policy in detail, this article concludes that international trademarks are just one aspect of a greater trend - fostered by the Internet - away from top-down administration and towards a more democratic, and perhaps even populist, mode of decision making.