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Understanding the Difference Between Legitimate Commercial Practice and Cybersquatting

24th July, 2020

Posted by ESQwire

If you own a business and you have a domain name dispute, you may be wondering whether you have a valid complaint, and whether you may be eligible to begin UDRP proceedings. You likely want to resolve the dispute as quickly as possible, and you also may be confused about whether what seems like cybersquatting or typosquatting is actually a legitimate commercial practice. To be sure, you would not want to go through the process of filing a claim and learning about UDRP cost and filing options if you do not have a valid claim.

When you have these kinds of questions, it is essential to seek advice from a domain name attorney who can assess the specific facts of your case to help determine whether you should file a claim. In the meantime, we want to provide you with information that may be able to give you a better idea of whether you are facing a cybersquatting dispute, or whether what seems like cybersquatting is actually a legitimate commercial practice.

What is Cybersquatting and How Does it Differ from Legitimate Commercial Practice? 

To determine if you have a valid dispute concerning cybersquatting, or if the other party is engaged in a legitimate commercial practice, it is important to understand how cybersquatting is defined and identified. According to Harvard Law School, cybersquatting is, in effect, the opposite of a legitimate claim to a domain name. Cybersquatting refers to a practice in which another party registers a domain name, uses a domain name, or even sells a domain name with the intention to unlawfully benefit from another party’s valid trademark. Most cybersquatting cases involve a party purchasing domain names that are linked to a famous trademark or known profitable business, with plans to resell the domain to the legitimate business or to profit from internet users mistakenly clicking on the domain. 

For example, if you are trying to visit the website for eBay to buy or sell a product, or to participate in an online auction, the site you want is www.eBay.com. However, eBay was involved in UDRP proceedings to fight cybersquatting because more than 1,000 domain names had been registered that used “eBay” in some capacity. For example, a user might have searched for the online auction site and clicked on www.eBayauctions.com, or www.eBayAuto.com, only to learn that those domain names had no affiliation with eBay itself. 

How can I Know if it is Cybersquatting or a Legitimate Commercial Practice?

Determining whether a domain name is used for a legitimate interest requires a review of the facts.   Generally, though, the difference between a legitimate interest or a cybersquatter comes down to the intention of the party and circumstances surrounding the registration of  the domain name.   If there is actual use of the domain name, then those facts can be evaluated to help determine whether or not it is a case of cybersquatting.  In short, if a party had the intention of profiting off a trademark, or registered the domain in bad faith, then it is likely a cybersquatting issue.

If a domain name was registered in bad faith then the injured party (with the trademark) may be able to file a UDRP complaint or another type of claim to protect its intellectual property.. 

Seek Advice from a Domain Name and UDRP Attorney

If you have questions or concerns about differentiating between legitimate commercial practice and cybersquatting, or if you need assistance filing a domain name claim, you should know that an experienced cybersquatting attorney at our firm can assist you with a UDRP complaint or other actions to resolve your dispute. Contact ESQwire to learn more about how a domain name lawyer at our firm can help with typosquatting protection, cybersquatting claims, and other domain name issues.

 

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