What is Cybersquatting? - Notable Cases
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In the past decade, there have been numerous notable cases dealing with high profile figures involved in cybersquatting cases. These include celebrity personalities such as Madonna as well as organizations like PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals). Most of these cases fall under the "name jacking" category of squatting, though there are some interesting irregularities.
Most people are familiar with the popular case of the White House against the owners of the whitehouse.com domain name. Countless unsuspecting people would navigate to the whitehouse.com domain only to be barraged by the nude images one would expect from the porn website. While the website remained a thorn in the digital side of the government for some time, justice finally prevailed and the domain is now under the control of our federal government.
One notable case is that of MikeRoweSoft.com, the website design services domain for a Canadian high schooler, Mike Rowe. Mike thought that it was clever to add "soft" on the end of his name and use it as a domain name. His self-satisfaction was cut short when Microsoft sent him a letter demanding the domain name. Naturally, Mike requested compensation for the domain. In response, Microsoft told him that they would pay the $10 fee that Mike had initially paid for the domain. Mike's reaction was to demand $10,000 for the domain, at which point the software giant filed a cease and desist order against the teenager.
After the substantial negative press generated against Microsoft by the case, they settled with Mike out of court. Mike handed over the domain in exchange for free access to Microsoft's developer's network, a free trip for him and his family to Microsoft's headquarters, an Xbox and games, as well as numerous other perks.
Other popular figures and companies that have gone to court over instances of cybersquatting include Volkswagen, Bruce Springsteen, and Kevin Spacey. While these widely recognized names are examples of victims of cybersquatting, they do not begin to compare in volume to the countless less well known victims.
While the cases of cybersquatting vary widely, the overriding theme through most is that someone is just looking to take advantage of the popularity of a figure. Quite often, the figures being taken advantage of are not even aware that they have the capability to fight back. The result is damage to individuals and businesses that are just trying to run a legitimate business.
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