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What is cybersquatting? This article will help define cybersquatting and discuss common uses of cybersquatting. Don't let a cybersquatter take advantage of your domain name or trademark, keep reading for tips on resolving cybersquatting disputes.

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When it comes to building a reputation on the Internet, or using your business or company name to turn a profit, you may find that someone has hijacked your trademark or your name in order to make his or her own profit. This is known as cybersquatting, and it involves registering a domain name that is either trademarked, or using someone else’s name in order to get some sort of commercial gain – even the domain name registrant may not have any real reason to use the domain name. It is important to note, however, that the sale or purchase of generic domain names is not cybersquatting, despite the fact that sometimes the term is used in that manner. Cybersquatting can only take place in instances in which someone is using a domain name that someone else has rightful claim to.

Common uses of cybersquatting

In some cases, cybersquatters will register as a domain name a trademark in order to get the trademark owner to buy the domain name from them. They register the domain name, and then use it, trying to attract attention. This can be done by using the site to post derogatory information about the trademark holder, forcing the trademark holder to buy the domain name from the cybersquatter in order to stop the flow of invective.

In other cases, cybersquatting is done for the revenue from paid ads on the Web site. If the domain name is one associated with a popular trademark or person, then traffic searches may end up there, and ads on the site may provide some revenue for the cybersquatter. In some cases, the same effect can be achieved by what is known as typosquatting. This form of cybersquatting occurs when someone decides to register a domain name with a variation of the trademark, such as a misspelling or a different extension. People who type in something wrong on accident find themselves at a different site that is unrelated.

Name jacking is another use of cybersquatting. In this method, someone might make use of another persona’s name. In the case of name jacking, the name is rarely trademarked, and so it is harder to challenge. If the person being name jacked is some sort of a professional with a reasonably good name and reputation, the cybersquatter may sell “business opportunities” or ebooks that can make money off of a few purchases.

Resolving disputes concerning cybersquatting

It can be difficult to resolve cybersquatting disputes. One of the main forums for this is under the Uniform Domain Name Resolution Policy (UDRP) that is administered under the auspices of the Internet policy making body ICANN. An approved domain name dispute resolution panel may be convened to make a ruling on the subject. However, these rulings are not necessarily binding, since they can be overturned in court. When the UDRP ruling goes in favor of the person claiming a registrant has infringed upon their trademark, the domain name owner has 10 days to file a lawsuit in the proper jurisdiction, or the registrar will be forced to turn the domain name over to the winner. If a person claiming cybersquatting loses, he or she can alwys pursue the matter in court.

How to go about prosecuting cybersquatting disputes in court is an interesting matter. First of all, there are concerns about jurisdiction. Depending on the court in question, jurisdiction may require that the laws of the state or country containing the person suing, or being sued, or sometimes rulings say that the procedure followed must be where the server that contains the domain is located. The United States does have the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act that provides some guidance when the parties are located in the United States.

Normally, though, going through the UDRP process is less expensive. In the U.S., it can cost up to $10,000 or more to carry through a litigious action. Using the UDRP only costs, on average, between $2,000 and $3,000. This is normally the first effort at getting the cybersquatting to stop.

If your trademark or good name is being used by someone else for commercial gain, or if it is being used to defame you in any way, it is possible for you to seek redress. However, be aware that you will have to prove that the cybersquatter is acting in bad faith, trying to capitalize on what you have worked so hard to build without any real right to the domain name.

Related Article: What Are Parked Domains? >>

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