Ways to Relieve your Domain Name Pains

As internet usage exponentially grows, cybersquatting has also reached record highs. Australia offers an array of protective mechanisms for businesses whose domain names have been taken for illegitimate purposes.

Introducing Cybersquatting

Cybersquatting refers to the practice of registering, (re)selling, or using a domain name that belongs to a well-known entity, with the intention to profit off the owner of that name. The original practice stemmed from earlier days of the internet, when many large companies had not realised the commercial opportunities online. Such examples of companies who fell ‘victim’ to cybersquatting include Panasonic and Hertz.

As companies become more tech-savvy and start securing their domain names earlier, it would be assumed that opportunities for cybersquatting would diminish. However, according to the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), cybersquatting cases have hit a record high, with their most recent report on cybersquatting detailing an approximate 10% increase annually.

Recognising Cybersquatting

Sometimes, the owner of the domain name might legitimately be using it for their business ventures. Other times, it is clear that the domain name has been staked out by a cybersquatter.

Check to see where the web address takes you. More likely than not, if you are taken to a functional website that has nothing to do with your business, and is clearly not trying to profit from your reputation, it is not a case of cybersquatting.

Clear indicators of cybersquatting are if the domain name takes you to a website filled with advertisements linked to your business, or if you are directed to a page that says “this domain name for sale” or “can’t find server”.

Before you can definitively determine whether its a case of cybersquatting, contact the domain name registrant to confirm. WHOIS Lookup can help you find the contact details of the current owner.

Here are some ways to deal with cybersquatters:

File a complaint under the Uniform Dispute Registration Policy (UDRP)

The UDRP is an independent and international panel that adjudicates on domain name disputes. The entire judging process is done through email, so there is no need to locate the registrant physically. This is especially useful if the registrant has used a privacy agent to keep their names hidden. THe UDRP method is also useful if the domain is quite generic (.com, .net, etc.) and if you are only interested in getting the domain name and not further remedies.

File a complaint under the Uniform Rapid Suspension System (URS)

The URS is a newer, more efficient version of the UDRP. URS can be used if the domain is newer (post 2012), or if you want a cheaper alternative to UDRP (starting price $375, compared to UDRP’s $1300). It however, requires a higher standard of proof and requires a registered trademark.

LawPath offers an integrated Trademark Registration to register your trademark hassle-free and quickly.

File a complaint under the .au Dispute Resolution Policy (auDRP)

Specifically for .au domains, this method is best if the current holder has not met the eligibility criteria for holding the domain, and if you wish not to acquire the domain name itself, but to prevent the current holder from having it.

Pay for the domain name

Although this can seem unfair, paying the current registrant can often be the cheapest and quickest solution. Your company may not have the time to wait for a judgement from a panel, and if they would rule in your favour.

Pick a different domain name

The most practical solution if your company does not have the resources or the time to purchase the domain.

Take legal action for trademark infringement

Given the time and expense of bringing a case before a court, resolving domain name disputes through this method is much less common. However, if the cybersquatter is involved in other intellectual property transgressions, this could be the appropriate method. Furthermore, sentencing handed down in courts can often involve more severe punishments against the offender.

Register your trademark through LawPath’s quick and easy online application to gain protection for your business’ brand.

Conclusion

The different remedy options available for businesses has made dealing with cybersquatting much easier. However, businesses should still take precautionary actions by securing potential domain names early-on to prevent these issues from arising.

Has your business had issues with cybersquatters? Which of these remedies would you choose? Let us know your thoughts by tagging us #lawpath or @lawpath.

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