Cybersquatting happens when someone registers, uses traffics in a domain name that is confusingly similar to your trademark, with a bad faith intent to profit. While the classic case of an established company having its corresponding .com domain name held hostage by a cybersquatter may not be as common, countless opportunities remain for cybersquatters to harm your business today. Some of the more common and recent kinds of cybersquatting include:
- Typosquatting – registration and/or use of domain names containing typographical variations of your trademark in order to divert traffic from your website based upon a consumer’s misspelling of or typographical error when entering your company name or trademark as a URL.
- gTLD – registering your trademark as part of a URL containing any of the constantly growing number of general top level domains. There are far more opportunities for cybersquatters now that .com/.net/.org have been supplemented with such gTLDs as .xyz, .club, .top, .bid, .loan, .win, .online, among others.
- ccTLD – with more and more companies operating internationally, if for no other reason than the ubiquitous nature of the Internet, registering your trademark as part of a URL containing country code top level domains, such as .de (Germany), .ca (Canada), .eu (European Union), .uk (United Kingdom), .nl (Netherlands) and .cn (China).
- Employees and independent contractors holding your domain names hostage, either for additional compensation or upon termination out of spite.
- Lead generation entities that utilize countless domain names.
- Affiliate marketing, social media marketing or other agencies that utilize countless domain names.
Each case of cybersquatting is fact specific and, for that reason, it is important to speak to a domain name attorney who has experience with the Anti-Cybersquatting Consumer Protection Act (ACPA) and Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP), not to mention an understanding of the domain name system. Not only can you take affirmative steps to protect your trademark and domain name, you may have options short of expensive and protracted litigation in the event you believe you are the victim of cybersquatting.
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