Cybersquatting: What Is It and How to Avoid Being Affected
March 2, 2017
Have you ever searched for a brand’s website or social media page, but you end up on a page that doesn't seem right? The Twitter profile picture might still be an egg or the website may be completely blank. What happened here?
Most likely, cybersquatters affected this brand’s online reputation.
Cybersquatting is when someone takes a company or brand’s domain name, handle or logo variation with intention of selling. Many people debate the ethics and legality behind cybersquatting. If you have an up-and-coming startup, you should consider how cybersquatting can affect your brand.
Generally speaking, cybersquatting cases are won in favor of the company or brand if the person who registered the domain or handle, registered with bad intent. A person cannot deliberately use the a company or brand’s trademarks with the purpose of misleading the public and profiting off of trademark’s goodwill.
For example: a couple years ago, Chanel filed a claim against a technology group for registering the names, “chanelstore.com and chanelfashion.com”. A panel of arbitrators sided with the iconic fashion brand’s claim, stating that the sites were “confusingly similar”.
During Pinterest’s rise in traffic in 2013, someone began registering domain names like, “pinterests.com and pimterest.com”. These sites directed Pinterest users away from their intended destination to sites riddled with casino ads. Pinterest sued this person for lost traffic due to the similar names. After a year of litigation, Pinterest won $7.2 million and an injunction.
When looking after your company’s domain names, consider these points:
- Purchase generic top-level domains. This lets you have full control over the domain names that are closest to the actual one.
- Buy obvious misspellings. Think of the different ways people could potentially misspell your domain name. Try testing with friends and family to see what the most common misspellings are!
- Keep the company’s domain registration information current! You don’t want to let your domain be scooped up because of expired credit cards and outdated contact information.
Remember this information, make well-informed domain name purchases, and your brand’s online reputation should remain safe and secure!