What is Cybersquatting? - Legal Ramifications
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One of the most important things to understand about the legal aspect of cybersquatting is that the vast majority of victims do not have the inclination or resources to go after the squatters who are fraudulently profiting. Genuine cybersquatting is legally banned, but it is still an incredibly prolific act that makes operating on the Internet more difficult for many small businesses and individuals.
The Uniform Dispute Resolution Process (UDRP) has been set up as a method for those with a legitimate claim to an existing domain name to legally pursue the turnover of their rightful domain name. As previously mentioned, there are over 2000 cases a year filed against domainsquatting, of which approximately 85% result in the filer successfully gaining control of the challenged domain name. About 97% of the 10,000+ cases that have been filed in the past have successfully been addressed.
Cybersquatting was officially addressed in 1999 by the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act (ACPA). The act allows for business or individuals to pursue rewards of up to $100,000 in cybersquatting cases. Although the act is rarely used to its full extent, it is a sign of the rampant nature of cybersquatting dating as far back as at least 10 years.
Unfortunately, the act and subsequent efforts have done little to curtail the number of cybersquatting cases. While they have provided a means for rightful owners to gain control of their domains, it remains profitable for squatters to buy up domains with the intention of gaining from their popularity.
While most cybersquatting cases are quite straightforward, there are individual circumstances that make some quite complicated. In order for an entity to pursue the control of a domain, they must first prove that they have some claim to that domain. After doing so, they must then also prove that there was malicious intent by the supposed squatter at the time of purchase of the domain.
Sometimes the malicious intent is not nearly as evident as many would like to believe. There are genuine cases of individuals who have innocently purchased domains only to later come under legal assault by corporations.
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