Does your domain name match your brand name? All too often new clients have a domain name that is a different domain name from their brand name.
A similar domain name often results when the client cannot buy their own domain name but tries to get as close as possible. All too often, these clients say that they cannot figure out who owns their preferred domain but there is no website for that domain. This scenario is often a sign of cybersquatting.
What is Cybersquatting?
Cybersquatting involves the registering, selling or using of a domain name with the intent of profiting from someone else’s trademark. Cybersquatters buy up domain names of existing businesses with the intent of profiting when they sell the domain name back to the business.
How can you tell if it is cybersquatting?
Follow these steps to see if someone is cybersquatting on your domain:
- Type in the domain name and see where you land: If you do not land on a website, the chances of cybersquatting are good. If you land on a website full of advertisements, there is a good chance a cybersquatter is leveraging your brand to sell ads to your competitors.
- Identify the Domain Name Registrant: Before jumping to conclusions, use the WHOIS Lookup to identify the name of the domain owner. You can see if there is a valid use of the domain name or if they would be willing to sell it to you for a price you are willing to pay.
If a cybersquatter has your domain name, what can you do?
Paying a cybersquatter for the domain name may be cheaper than initiating legal action. However, you have two additional options: (1) Sue under the ACPA act, or (2) Leverage the ICANN Procedure.
- Sue under the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act (ACPA): The ACPA authorizes a trademark owner to sue an alleged cybersquatter to obtain a court order domain transfer back to the trademark owner. For the court to rule in favor of the trademark owner, you would have to prove that the domain name has been registered in bad faith.
- File an Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (ODRP): ICANN enforces the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDNDRP), which is a policy for the resolution of domain name disputes.
Regardless of the route you choose, you need a trademark to take legal action. For more information on Trademarks, visit the United States Patent and Trademark Office.