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This weekâs blog entries will be on a subject near and dear to my heart. âCybersquatting.â
Cybersquatting (also known as domain squatting), according to the United States federal law (known as the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act), is registering, trafficking in, or using a domain name with bad faith or the intent to profit from the goodwill of a trademark belonging to someone else. Frequently, the cybersquatter offers to sell the domain to the person or company who owns a trademark contained within the name at an inflated price.
The term is derived from âsquatting,â 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. Cybersquatting, however, is a bit different in that the domain names that are being "squatted" are (sometimes but not always) being paid for through the registration process by the cybersquatters. Cybersquatters usually ask for prices far greater than that at which they purchased it. Some cybersquatters put up derogatory remarks about the person or company the domain is meant to represent in an effort to encourage the subject to buy the domain from them. Others post paid links via Google, Yahoo and Ask.com and other paid advertising networks to the actual site that the user likely wanted, thus monetizing their squatting.
Cybersquatters sometimes register variants of popular trademarked names, a practice known as typosquatting.
Another strategy is as follows: 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. At this point the registration is considered lapsed. 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 "name jacking," which is accomplished by purchasing an individual's name as a second-level domain name. Setting up a website allows the purchaser to capitalize on any searches done for that name. For example, if John Jones has a thriving professional practice (perhaps he is a doctor, a lawyer, a financial professional, or real estate agent - or any other profession which interacts with the public on a regular basis), there is a high likelihood that potential clients will do some research on the internet before doing business with Mr. Jones.
If Mr. Jones has been "name jacked" then someone else owns johnjones.com and that website will appear at or near the top of any searches for the name "John Jones." These "name jacked" sites are typically set up to sell high-profit items like ebooks and/or various business opportunities and require few purchases to be profitable. 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" (ACPA) laws U.S.C. Â§ 1125 and U.S.C. Â§ 1129. Since people frequently search the web to find out information, name jacking provides low-cost web traffic to the name-jacked website.
Prompt registration of your companies name, personal name and often their variations are necessary to avoid much more serious problems.