Domain Squatting: What It Is And How To Prevent It

Domain squatting is a very confusing matter, as it was legal and then moved to a gray area, which made it illegal in many cases, yet still legal in others. Basically, it depends on intention, which makes it even more confusing. Domain squatters buy names of celebrities and famous brands to charge more than the money they paid and make a profit. Some celebrities’ names were misused by domain squatters before, however, they filed a case and won it. If you want to know more about domain squatting, you came to the right place, as in this article, we will tell you more about domain squatting and how to prevent it.

What Is Domain Squatting?

Domain squatting is when someone buys a gTLD (generic top-level domain) to stop another person from taking it, so that person can sell ads or resell the domain itself. To simplify matters to you, it is how you get directed to a page with a similar domain name to the one you were actually looking for. Bear in mind that domaining and domain squatting are different. When someone buys domain names that have a potential value to other buyers depending on trends, interests, or habits and then sells or auctions them, it is called domaining. Sometimes domain squatters go for small businesses and snap their domains because they pay just pennies for them, but the real owners would pay them anything to regain their domain names rather than going through all the hassle and paperwork needed all over again to launch their business.

Act of Bad Faith

If you own a trademark or copyright, then you have a claim on all domains that are registered in bad faith. To be considered an act of bad faith, there has to be or all attempts of cyber squatting to make money have to be made by assuming there is a connection between a domain owner and a trademarked material and disrupting a competitor. This way, bad faith falls under the umbrella of domain squatting.

How To Prevent Domain Squatting As A Business Owner Or A Website Visitor?

As A Business Owner:

  1. If you have been a victim of cybersquatting, you can seek the help and protection of some laws that include:
  • WIPO – Which is for international disputes. It makes arbitration easier as an expert panel gets to review cases and end conflicts.
  • ACPA: This law applies in the USA only. If found guilty, the court orders the cancelation or transfer of the domain to the complainant.
  1. Buy your domains with prominent TLDs and the ones that are similar to your brand name. This way, you will pay a little extra money, however, you will decrease the risk of falling victim to a cyber squatter.
  2. Regulations will not be of help if you didn’t register your name quickly or if someone else beat you to it. That is why it is essential that your trademark gets registered as soon as possible.
  3. Reach out to the cybersquatting domain owner, as the whole thing might be a mere coincidence and not cybersquatting.

As a Website Visitor:

  1. Before entering any login credentials, you need to check the address first to verify the spelling of the domain.
  2. Watch out for websites with a lot of pop-ups, download buttons, ads, automatic downloads, and redirects to other websites.
  3. If there is no padlock sign, then stay away from it.
  4. Look for organizational information in legitimate certificates found in the SSL/TLS certificate information, as any safe website must have an SSL/TLS certificate on it.
  5. If the website looks fishy and unprofessional, then it actually is, and you need to stay away from it.

Checking if the brand name you chose for your business is not available in the market is recommended before you start registering it. However, you can add a different extension or your country code to it. Sometimes, no matter how cautious you are, you still fall victim to cybersquatting. In that case, you can seek the help of your lawyer to fight for your rights in court based on laws that protect businesses against cybersquatting, contact that person and make sure that they are cyber squatters and if not, try to reach an agreement with them, or you can get it over with and buy your domain name back instead of going through the whole registering process all over again. Moreover, if you are a website visitor, you need to be careful and keep an eye for those fake and fishy websites by checking the SSL/TLS certificate on the website, avoiding websites with too many ads and pop-ups, and checking if there is a padlock sign or not. This way, you can reduce the risk of cybersquatting to the minimum.