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Cyber Squatting

Written by Oliver Coates a work experience student at Lawdit Solicitors on 23 August 2013

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What is Cyber Squatting?

Cyber squatting occurs when an individual or a company registers a domain name with the sole intention of profiting from another brand’s trade mark and reputation. In most instances a cyber squatter will register the name of a well known brand before the legitimate company have been able to, for example a cyber squatter may register www.bmw.com, with the intention of selling this domain name to the legitimate company for an inflated fee. Another name for cyber squatting is bad faith registration. Before claiming one has been the victim of cyber squatting it is important to check if the domain name has actually been registered in bad faith or not.

Cyber Squatting and the Law;

In the United States, cyber squatting is specifically referred to in law, the Anti-Cybersquatting Consumer Protection Act of 1999, which defines cyber squatting as, “registering, trafficking in, or using a domain name with bad faith intent to profit from the goodwill of a trademark belonging to someone else”. In the UK, there is no specific law relating to cyber squatting, however legal action can be taken through the avenue of trade mark infringement, with legal backing coming from the Trade Mark Act of 1994. In addition you can also go through the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) who help to resolve cyber squatting issues. The British Telecommunications plc and others - v – One in a Million Ltd case decided by the English Court of Appeal set a precedent in the UK for cyber squatting, ruling in favour of legitimate companies and against instances where “domain names were registered to take advantage of the distinctive character and reputation of the marks”, adding, “that is unfair and detrimental".

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