Cybersquatting reaches all-time high: what to do if your business needs help

Cybersquatting is the practice of registering a domain name that contains the product, brand or company names of an existing business with the intention of ‘trafficking in’ business, profiting from the goodwill of the existing business or trying to sell the domain name to the existing business at an inflated price.

The number of cybersquatting dispute cases is at an all-time high, according to the latest figures released by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), which mediates such disputes. WIPO states that three particular industries – banking and finance, fashion, and the internet and IT – accounted for one third of all cybersquatting cases it handled in 2017.

Twelve per cent of the cybersquatting cases WIPO dealt with last year related to new generic top-level domains (new gTLDs), with .STORE, .SITE and .ONLINE registrations the most-commonly disputed. In some cases the complainants asserted fraud, phishing (attempting to obtain sensitive information), counterfeiting or scams.

Should I be worried about cybersquatting?

Potentially. For many businesses the internet plays a big part in the way their business communicates with its customers, and marketing or selling its products and services, so having a domain name that reflects your business or contains your business name is extremely important.

If someone else registers your business name as a domain name, not only could you be losing custom, but the reputation of your business could suffer.

What can I do if I’m a victim of cybersquatting?

Although the UK has no specific cybersquatting laws, you can take action against cybersquatters using various other laws. Daniela Catuara, Associate Solicitor in our Commercial Litigation team, recently acted for a waste-disposal client to secure the transfer of a domain name registered to, and being used by, a rival business. In this case the domain name contained our client’s business name. Daniela secured the transfer of the domain name through Nominet’s online dispute resolution service, saving our client the cost of court litigation.

If you think you may have fallen victim to cybersquatting, please contact Daniela by email or on 01323 435900 to discuss how we may be able to assist.

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