Cybersquatting occurs when an individual or entity deliberately and in bad faith registers a domain name containing a trademark they have no rights to. If somebody registers a domain that uses your trademark (or something that is confusingly similar to your trademark) with the intention of selling it to you for profit or using your business reputation to make themselves money, you have been the victim of cybersquatting. Specific motives of cybersquatters may include extorting payment from the trademark owner, collecting multiple domain names to sell to the true trademark owner, diverting Web site visitors to other sites, diverting consumers to a competitor’s Web site and defrauding consumers.
It is illegal for the cybersquatter even to register the domain, regardless of whether they use it for business purposes. In order to prevail against the cybersquatter, you will have to show that he or she had a bad faith intent to profit from your trademark and that the domain name registered or used by the cybersquatter is identical or confusingly similar to your trademark. Some of the factors that will be considered by a court in determining whether a cybersquatter has acted in bad faith include the cybersquatter’s intent to divert traffic from your site for economic advantage or to tarnish or disparage your mark, their offer to sell the domain name to you or anyone else for profit, their use of false contact information when registering the domain name, their prior practice of engaging in similar behavior and their pattern and practice of registering numerous domains that are similar or identical to famous trademarks.
If a court determines the cybersquatter has violated the law, it may order him or her to forfeit the domain and transfer it to you – the rightful trademark owner. It is important to ensure your rights are protected against such cybersquatters by taking immediate action and using the appropriate legal tools and remedies to secure your rights.
Someone who has had a bad experience with your business will sometimes register a domain that is similar to your trademarked name, for the purpose of criticizing you and your business. With the right legal expertise, you may be able to challenge the registrant depending on a variety of factors including the location of the defendant and what other uses he or she makes of his or her Web site.
In a typical typosquatting case, a typosquatter registers a domain name that includes typographical errors (typos) that the public is likely to make while trying to enter the address for your site containing your trademarked name. The typosquatter hopes that users will be diverted from your site to his or her site. Once users arrive on the typosquatter’s site, they will be bombarded by advertising links that generate revenue for the typosquatter. If you are a victim of typosquatting, a court will likely rule that your trademark has been infringed because of the intentional misspelling of your trademarked name, in bad faith, for the intended purpose.
If someone has registered a domain name that you had previously registered and that subsequently became available, such as through an accidental lapse in registration or error or fraud, and then tries to sell it back to you, you are the victim of cyberpoaching and must act quickly to restore your domain name.
Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy
UDRP is an alternative to litigation that deals with cybersquatters through the arbitration process. It is an administrative process in which you will be required to prove that the cybersquatter registered a domain that is identical or confusingly similar to your trademark, the cybersquatter has no legitimate interest in the domain registered and the domain was registered and used in bad faith. If successful, the domain name will be transferred to you or cancelled.