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What is Cybersquatting?

Cybersquatting refers to using, trafficking in or registering a domain name with the intention of taking advantage of the popularity of another company’s trademark. These cybersquatters generally register these domains before the target company, thus forcing the latter to buy the domain from them at a higher price.

Cybersquatting comes from the term squatting, which describes the act of occupying a land, building or any other property without the knowledge or permission of the owner. In a sense, cybersquatting entails cybersquatters registering a company or a trademark for his domain name and forcing the company to buy the domain name by advertising it as the legitimate company site. In some cases, the domain name is used for posting derogatory remarks about the target company. The legitimate company’s only option is to buy the domain name at ridiculously high prices.

Legal Implications of Cybersquatting
Cybersquatting is still a hotly debated issue in the Internet as both sides can take advantage from laws about it. On one hand, cybersquatters say that cybersquatting is just one form of the free market and capitalistic principles. On the other hand, large corporations can take advantage of the law to steal domain names from people who had no intent of using the domain names in a bad way. This is called reverse domain hijacking and this concern arose in cases whose outcome heavily favored the big corporations.

In any case, complainant holders of the trademarks can go through the process of resolving domain name disputes using the Uniform Domain Name Resolutions Policy. This process, however, has been heavily criticized as it favored the trademark holders and large corporations. Complainants can also choose to go to court but this often presents the problem of jurisdiction and the different laws regarding the matter in different countries and involves a lot of money and time.

Upon winning the case, the complainant can either buy and maintain the payments for the domain name or leave it available, in which case, another person can buy it once again.

Cybersquatting Tactics and Strategies
To maximize profits, cybersquatters register many variants of a popular trademark name or brands in a practice called typosquatting. This makes it more susceptible to being brought by the owner of the trademark especially if the page rank of the website in the domain name is high.

Renewal snatching, alert angling and extension exaggeration are also popular tactics in which a cybersquatter, using automated tools, would wait for the exact moment that a domain name for a popular trademark expires and thus open to the public as a domain name for sale. The cybersquatter then buys the domain name, giving the owner no other option but to buy back the domain name at higher prices. Of course, even if the old owner of the domain name does not buy back the domain name from the cybersquatter, he is still assured of profit as the popular domain name can generate traffic and thus can be resold to other interested parties.

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One Response to “What is Cybersquatting?”

  1. How about a cheesy real estate joke? If you ever think that no cares if you are alive or dead then just try missing a few house payments.

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