Cybersquatting refers to the practice of registering or using a domain name (i.e., URL) with the purpose of profiting off of another business’ or individual’s trademark related to the domain name. The intent of cybersquatting is to:
- Try to get the business or individual who owns the trademark to pay large sums of money to obtain the domain name for their own use
- Try to divert business from the proprietary owner of the trademark to a competitor.
For example, say you own a trademark on “widget x.” If another person or business scoops up the domain name widgetx.com (and variations of the domain name, such as widgetx.net) before you and then offers to sell you that domain name for an inflated, expensive price, you are likely the victim of cybersquatting.
How to Recognize Cybersquatting
The following are some signs that a domain name may be owned by a cybersquatter:
- When you go to a specific domain name related to a trademark that you own, there is not a functioning website associated with that URL. Instead, you are diverted to a page that states that “this website is for sale” or “this website is under construction.”Keep in mind, however, that this is not a sure-fire litmus test for cybersquatting, as a legitimate business may own the site and may be in the process of building a website for the specific URL.
- When you go to the domain name, you are diverted to a link farm that lists a bunch of links to products or services related to your trademark.Using the widget x example above, if you go to widgetx.com and see a number of adds for retailers seeing widget x, then a cybersquatter is likely using your trademark to sell Google ads and make money at your expense.
For information on how to stop or combat cybersquatting, check out the upcoming Part 2 of this blog.