Cybersquatting ( English squatter = squatter), also domain squatting or domain squatting , is a derogatory term for the registration of terms as Internet domain names that the registrant is not actually entitled to. The registration of personal names is also called Namejacking those of brand names as Brandjacking named. When registering names and parts thereof, which are communicated with persons of public interest such. B. musicians, politicians or athletes are related, there may be an overlap of the two approaches.
Often times, cybersquatters register such domains and offer them to the person or company who owns a trademark included in the domain name. They usually charge a high price, well above the initial registration fee. In order to put pressure on the rights holder, some cybersquatters provide the domain's website with content that arouses negative associations with the offerings of the person or company concerned. In this way they hope that the person concerned will buy the domain sooner, also to be able to remove the unwanted content.
Most cybersquatters register multiple variants of a domain to prevent them from being registered by the people or companies themselves. A cybersquatters, who as eWurstbrot.de registered also registered eWurstbrot.com , ElektronischesWurstbrot.com , ElektronischesWurstbrot.net and other logical variants of the initial term.
The term cybersquatter is sometimes used for people who register a large number of domains without any interest in later personal use, or generally for all people who purchase domains specifically for the purpose of later reselling. The cybersquatter then offers these domains to a prospect with “better rights” or a special interest at a possibly quite high price, an act that is viewed by some as blackmail . Because of the identity or similarity with his company name, personal name, brand or product name, the rights holder feels under high pressure to acquire the domain. This often unfavorable negotiating position results in the often considerable price demand, which thus differs from pricing on the free market. If the interested party actually has better rights, arbitration proceedings and the ordinary legal process are open to him. Although this may appear problematic from a moral point of view, it is legally unobjectionable in a large number of cases. However, this behavior is better referred to as domain grabbing .
According to a survey by the European Commission, a good quarter of those questioned have already been affected by cybersquatting as brand and / or domain owners.
Disputes about the .eu top level domain are often negotiated in the ADR alternative dispute settlement procedure in Prague. In the sunrise phase of the introduction of the .eu-TLD in particular , there were a number of disputes that were rejected in the ADR mainly due to the complainants' inadequately justified trademark rights. The case of the Dutch Traffic Web Holding BV , which registered new trademarks with an ampersand (&) in the name, which is deleted from the .eu domain name by the EURid when the domain registration is applied for, gained particular prominence . In a large number of cases, it won the bid before the actual owner of the rights to city and brand names.
Disputes about domains outside of Germany are usually resolved through the Uniform Domain Name Resolution Policy ( UDRP ), a procedure drawn up by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers ( ICANN ). Critics complain, however, that large companies are preferred and that the decisions made often go far beyond the rules and intent of the UDRP. In Switzerland, it is mainly the World Intellectual Property Organization ( WIPO ) that is started, in regional cases district courts in the first instance .
Litigation is another way of resolving cybersquatting cases, but case law is often a problem as different courts have determined that the place of proceedings is either the plaintiff , the defendant, or the location of the server hosting the domain is registered. Most people choose to use the UDRP to resolve the matter because it is cheaper on average and usually much quicker than filing a lawsuit. However, as is more common, a court can decide the case beyond the UDRP.
Some countries have specific cybersquatting laws that go beyond normal trade mark protection laws. The US, for example, introduced the US Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act (ACPA) in 1999 .
As early as 2001, however, WIPO criticized the legal framework in a study. It is not possible to effectively put down cybersquatters under the prevailing legal situation. She suggested creating an internationally valid, uniform regulation.
Under the UDRP, successful complainers can have the domains deleted (which often means someone else will re-register them) or have them transferred to their name (which means they have to pay annual fees to prevent the domain from being re-registered released). Under the ACPA, cybersquatters can be held liable for reputational and business damage up to $ 100,000.
There have also been several instances where companies, individuals, or governments attempted to revoke domain names from their owners using false allegations of trademark infringement. In some cases, these procedures were even successful. This practice is also known as reverse cybersquatting .
- Domain grabbing
- Reverse domain hijacking
- Domain trading
- Domain name law
- Domain registration
- ICANN website for UDRP
- WIPO study on the subject (English / French / Spanish only)
- Decisions of the .eu court of arbitration ADR
- Survey by the European Commission
- EURid annual report ( Memento of the original from November 10, 2011 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link has been inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. (PDF file)
- Domain Law Newsletter No. 372
- Adam Beaumont: Cybersquatters develop an appetite for .ch. swissinfo, February 11, 2006, accessed August 14, 2020 .