What is cybersquatting?
A cybersquat is an unethical practice committed by some corporations or individuals to benefit from another company’s credibility. Domain names that use or closely resemble trademarked or registered names of existing businesses are registered, sold, or used. These domain names are often sold by cybersquatters to companies with legitimate connections at a premium.
Your business may suffer losses due to lost internet traffic if a lawsuit is filed against the cybersquatter. A cybersquatting lawsuit can be filed under the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act or the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers. You may be able to learn more about your options for protecting your business from infringement by contacting an experienced trademark lawyer.
Exactly how does cybersquatting work?
The practice of cybersquatting, or domain squatting, is widespread today, despite laws prohibiting it. An attacker who engages in cybersquatting looks up a company’s domain name to see if it is registered and then purchases it and uses it illegally or sells it at an unreasonable price. An average domain name costs between 10 and 30 dollars a year. This domain could be bought by a cybersquatter and sold for thousands of dollars.
Another method of cybersquatting involves buying a similar domain name with a different top-level domain after discovering that the domain name already exists. It’s the last segment of your domain name that is called a top-level domain. .com, .org, .eu, .ng, and others are some of the most common top-level domains.
Why is Cybersquatting illegal?
A lot has been said lately about the do’s and don’ts of domain names. There is a lot of talk about how many characters long they should be. What keywords should they include? Do you think it’s worth X amount of money to purchase this domain??? It’s important to think about these questions every day. To avoid leaving these questions unanswered…domains should typically be around 12-13 characters long, with a keyword or two included, and if you can afford it, get it.
During this post, we’ll discuss something a little bit different – something that has legal consequences. Yes, we’ll take a look at the “Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act” (ACPA). From why the act exists to how you can avoid being caught, we’ll cover everything you need to know about it.
In the first place, what is cybersquatting?
Let’s refresh your memory about the outlandish term in case you haven’t heard it before. A cybersquat is when someone buys a domain name that contains another company’s mark with the intention of selling or using it for their own gain.
Imagine that you recently purchased the domain Pepsii.com. This domain may be hung over well-known soda brands’ heads and convinced them to buy it from you, or they may contact you and offer to purchase it on their own. Fun fact: this is also referred to as Typosquatting. Cybersquatting also involves using another brand’s likeness in a confusing or misleading manner. A few examples of this would be “mycoca-cola.com” and “drinkcoke.org”. The brand name is not necessarily misspelled, but the spelling is misleading.
What Is The Most Harmful Time For Cybersquatting?
There is another tactic that can cause more harm to a company than the one above. Suppose you make a beverage similar to Pepsi and you sell it to customers. In anticipation of people trying to go to their site and occasionally misspelling it (adding on the second “i”), you’ve purchased the domain name “Pepsii.com.”. You hope they will purchase your product since it’s similar to what they were looking for.
What is the average number of people who misspell the domain name? There are often more searches, and eventually misspellings, when the domain is part of a massive brand. Over time, people will mistakenly add that extra letter to your URL, get redirected to a competitor’s website, and purchase product Y instead of product X.
A brief case study
What is the evidence for this? Our experience is based on personal observation. The company owned a domain that was just one letter different from their competitor’s brand name, so they had a big chunk of traffic going to their site. There were a lot of people who made the mistake, were redirected to the unintended site, and became customers. There must be a mistake here? Is it possible to profit from a brand name that belongs to someone else?
When people misspell their urls and land on their competitor’s site, the company whose brand name was being used unjustly got tired of hearing about it. As a result of some internet research, the company discovered that something could be done about this issue. After sending a piece of mail to the competitor, their legal team surrounded the domain and took it over.
How Does This Affect You?
As websites launch like never before, it can be hard to keep track of what’s going on and if your company can take advantage. We have been receiving a lot of inquiries about their domain names recently, so we thought it would be useful to shed some light on the ACPA and everything it entails. Would you mind telling us if something your competitor does irritates you? Did you get a legitimate website audit in your email inbox? Consider staying educated on the legality of the web if you have a nudge that something isn’t right.