Cybersquatting licenses, sells or uses a domain name with the purpose of profiting from the benefit of the trademark of someone else. This usually refers to the process of buying domain names that include the names of actual businesses with the intention of selling the names to other businesses for a fee. Most of the time, a cybersquatter will buy a domain name that shares a name with a popular brand or celebrity, and then piggyback on their search engine traffic to make money from on-site ads or try to sell the domain to the trademark owner at an inflated rate. However, when a copyright holder neglects to renew their domain registration the opportunity for cybersquatters blooms, leaving cybersquatters open to swoop in and register their already established domain for themselves.
History of Cybersquatting
The phenomenon that came to be known as cybersquatting began at a time when most firms were not educated of the internet’s market prospects. Several creative people registered as domain names of well-known businesses, with the goal of selling the names back to the businesses when they eventually wake up. The cybersquatter “victims” were Samsung, Fry’s Electronics, Hertz, and Avon. Opportunities for cybersquatters are dwindling rapidly, as most businesses now know that a high priority is to nail down domain names.
Cybersquatting Laws in India
Under the Trade Mark Act, 1999, no domain name protection law and cyber squatting matters are decided in India. Disputes involving bad faith registrations are typically resolved through the ICANN-developed Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP) process. Under UDRP, WIPO is the leading accredited ICANN domain name dispute resolution service provider and was established as a vehicle for promoting intellectual property protection, dissemination, and use worldwide. India is one of the 171 member states of WIPO worldwide. An individual can lodge a complaint before ICANN approved administrative dispute resolution service providers under Rule 4(a) that:
- The domain name shall be “identical or confusingly similar to a trade mark or service mark” over which the claimant has rights.
- The owner / registrant of the domain name has no right or legitimate interest regarding the domain name.
- Domain name is registered and used in bad faith.
India has also set up its own registry under the name IN Registry under the authority of the National Internet Exchange of India (NIXI), in which the domain name dispute is settled under the .IN Dispute Resolution Policy (INDRP). The Strategy was formulated in compliance with globally agreed principles and the relevant provisions of the Indian Information Technology Act 2000. Under the IN Registry, disputes are settled under the rules of practice of. IN Domain Name Dispute Resolution Protocol (INDRP) and INDRP. These guidelines specify how a lawsuit, costs, correspondence and the process concerned will be lodged.
In Aqua Minerals Limited vs. Mr. Pramod Borse & Anr, the Hon’ble High Court of Delhi Court held that, unless and until an individual has a valid reason as to why he wants a specific domain name for registration till then there will be no interference drawn that the aforementioned person preferred to trade under the name of the trade name he had picked up for registration or as a domain name because it was an existing name with a common prestige and popularity at immense costs and expenditures incurred under advertisements.
Notable Cases of Cybersquatting
Online auction platform eBay back in 2015 won a staggering 1,153 domain names it claimed to have been registered in bad faith. All domains included the word “ebay” and three numbers followed by a suffix for .net or.com. The case is one of the largest settled by the Center of Arbitration and Mediation of the World Intellectual Property Organization to date.
2. Jennifer Lopez:
Famed rapper, actress and retailer Jennifer Lopez fell victim to a cybersquatting scheme in 2009, with sites jenniferlopez.org and jenniferlopez.net popping up and bombarding them with advertisements and promotional connections to swindle money from the star’s followers. The star won back both properties after a long litigation, which were returned to the Jennifer Lopez Estate.
Rise in Cybersquatting
In 2006, the number of cybersquatting disputes filed with the World Organization for Intellectual Property (WIPO) increased by 25 per cent compared to 2005. The advancement of the domain name registry system is creating growing worry for trademark owners in a related development, in particular some of the consequences of using computer applications to automatically register obsolete domain names and their ‘parking’ on pay-per click portal pages, choice to register free-of-charge names for a five-day ‘degustation’ period, proliferation of new registrars and development of new generic Top Level Domains.
The combined result of these developments is to create greater opportunities for the often-anonymous mass of domain names registration, without specific consideration of intellectual property rights of third parties.
How Cybersquatting be Prevented?
Since many cybersquatting sites always try to trick our computers into sending our private details or attempting to install malicious software on your device, it is vital that you have the proper vulnerability management in place before you go to investigate. A controlled protection company will help you secure your personal data and your business from phishing malware and other threats. One of the easiest and by far the most important moves here is choosing multiple top-level domains and building a page on them all. It could be shockingly successful to assign a name on many domains like.com,.org or one of the other top tier domains like.me domain.
To conclude, it can be noted that cybersquatting has become very common not only in India but in many other countries. If you ‘re a celebrity, it can be even more tricky to tell if the site is cybersquatting or just to pay homage to your work. The main giveaway is if the page has announcements. If there is, it means the web owner is making money from users accessing and viewing the posts, which may be grounds for an accusation of cybersquatting.
- “Acqua Minerals Limited vs. Mr. Pramod Borse & Anr. https://indiankanoon.org/doc/1597432/
- What is meant by cybersquatting?
- What are the cybersquatting laws in India?
- What is the history of cybersquatting?
- What are some notable cases of cybersquatting?
- How can a cybersquatter be stopped?