Cybersquatting Laws

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What Is Cybersquatting?

Cybersquatting is generally defined as the situation where a person or business entity purchased a domain name solely for the purpose of reselling the domain to the highest bidder. Implicit in the purpose of the purchase is to hold the website for ransom rather than using or developing it. Since 1999, cybersquatting, also referred to as "reverse domain hijacking," has been an illegal activity worldwide.

What Must an Individual Show to Make an Argument of Cybersquatting?

In general, a plaintiff must show that the domain name registrant has absolutely no "legitimate interest" in using the domain name and that the domain name registrant has acted in "bad faith" to deprive the potential legitimate owner use of or profit from the domain name. Thus, put simply, to make a claim the individual must show no "legitimate interest" and a "bad faith" motive.

Legitimate Interest: Legitimate interest, in this context, generally means a "reasonable business or professional purpose."

Bad Faith: Bad faith is generally interpreted to mean the registrant has tried to sell or manipulate the domain so as to make a profit on it. The term is ambiguous in any area of the law, and in cybersquatting law it's no different. Fortunately, the courts have provided some clarity. In this context bad faith is determined by:

Should I Contact a Lawyer Regarding a Possible Cybersquatting Suit?

Cybersquatting law is well settled worldwide. Courts tend to have little patience for cybersquatting, and are quick to hand down rulings and penalties to curtail this practice. If you believe you have a reasonable claim to a domain name which another person in squatting on, you should consider contacting an Internet or intellectual property lawyer immediately to file suit against the squatter.

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Last Modified: 06-25-2014 12:10 PM PDT

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