Cybersquatting

Cybersquatting

Cybersquatting (also known as domain squatting) is registering, trafficking in, or using a domain name with bad faith intent to profit from the goodwill of a trademark belonging to someone else. Some cybersquatter offer to sell the domain to the person or company who owns a trademark at an inflated price.

Some put up derogatory remarks about the person or company the domain is meant to represent to encourage the subject to buy the domain from them. Others post paid links via Google and other advertising networks. The term is derived from ‘squatting,’ which is the act of occupying an abandoned or unoccupied space or building that the squatter does not own, rent or otherwise have permission to use.

Cybersquatters sometimes register variants of popular trademarked names, a practice known as typosquatting. Internet domain name registrations are for a fixed period of time. If the owner of a domain name doesn’t re-register the name with an internet registrar prior to the domain’s expiration date, then the domain name can be purchased by anybody else after it expires. A cybersquatter may use automated software tools to register the lapsed name the instant it is lapsed. This strategy is one of a family of identity theft schemes including renewal snatching, extension exaggeration and alert angling.

Yet another approach is ‘namejacking,’ purchasing an individual’s name as a domain name to capitalize on any searches done for that name. As the name-jacked domains are set up using non-trademarked names and they have a purpose other than selling the domain name back to an individual, they circumvent the Anti-cybersquatting Consumer Protection Act. There have been several instances of companies, individuals or governments trying to take generic domain names away from their owners by making false claims of trademark violation. This practice is called ‘reverse domain hijacking.’

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