Cybersquatting is a term used to describe an individual or company who intentionally purchases a domain and holds that domain with the sole intention of selling it at a premium price. Cybersquatting is sometimes referred to as domain squatting and typo squatting.
When a cybersquatter buys a domain, it is inaccessible, states the site is under construction, uses it to advertise or forward to competitors, or has information about how to buy the domain.
For example, an individual may typosquat "computerhoe.com" (missing the 'p' in the name) in hopes of getting extra traffic from computerhope.com or for other purposes. Many companies including Computer Hope take the extra precaution and register the domain before someone can typosquat it and redirect visitors who mistyped the domain to the proper domain. Of course, every possible typo or misspelling cannot be accounted for, and it can be expensive to register every possible misspelling of a domain.
Victims of cybersquatting can sue under the ACPA (Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act) or can fight the name through the ICANN (Internet Corporation of Assigned Names and Numbers). Filing a complaint requires that the domain was a bad faith registration.
What is bad faith registration?
A bad faith registration is a process established by ICANN under the UDRP (Uniform Dispute-Resolution Policy) that applies to all top level domains. To file a bad faith registration UDRP complaint, you must establish the following three elements.
- The domain is infringing on a registered service mark or trademark of the complainant.
- The domain registrant does not have any rights or legitimate interests in the domain name.
- The domain name was registered and is being used in "bad faith."
How can bad faith be defined?
- The domain was registered with the sole intention of selling it to the service mark or trademark holder at a higher rate.
- The domain name was registered in an attempt to block the service mark or trademark holder from registering the name.
- The domain registrar registered the domain to disrupt the service mark or trademark owners business.
- The domain was registered to confuse or redirect customers to a competing business.
How to file a dispute
To file a dispute, you or an attorney must file a UDRP complaint that is filed through the WIPO or another approved resolution provider. The fees to file a dispute vary depending on the provider, for example, to file a dispute through the WIPO the fee is $1,500 for a single-member panel and $4,000 for a three-member panel. In addition to these costs, if you involve a lawyer, you may need to pay several thousand in additional lawyer retainer fees. See the ICANN list of approved dispute resolution service providers.