Internet domain names are a critical aspect of your company’s overall brand identity, image, and marketing portfolio. Your website is a gateway for your customers to learn about your business and contact you in an efficient way. The trading in domain names can be a lucrative business with some domain names trading for $20,000 or more on the secondary market.
It is not uncommon for unscrupulous parties to “troll” for potentially desirable unregistered domain names. These parties then register those names with the intention of exploiting those who have a legitimate right to that domain. The legitimacy to a domain could be established through holding a trademark or trade name similar to the domain name. The unscrupulous parties then will contact the legitimate party in hopes of selling the domain at an above market price or will use the domain to generate internet traffic by utilizing the market awareness or goodwill created by the legitimate party.
There are specific actions that can be brought by legitimate claimants against unscrupulous registrants of domain names. These actions include:
- The Anti-Cyber-Squatting Consumer Protection Act: An action filed in federal or state court for injunctive relief against someone infringing on your trademark through use of a website URL. This Act makes it illegal for a third party to infringe on the trademark or trade name of another by registering, trafficking in, or using a domain that:
- Is identical or confusingly similar to another’s mark; or
- Is dilutive to a famous mark.
- ICANN Domain Name Dispute Resolution Process: An action filed through a national arbitration panel to have a domain name transferred to its rightful owner. To be successful in gaining a transfer, the claim must show that:
- The domain is similar to the complainants trademark and the complainant has a rightful claim to the domain;
- The holder of the domain has no right to the domain or name; and
- The domain holder acquired and is using the domain in bad faith.
If you are interested in securing a domain name that has been registered by an unscrupulous party, Coolidge Wall may be able to help. Our attorneys at Coolidge Wall have experience in resolving internet domain disputes. We can evaluate your situation, recommend options for moving forward, and if necessary, file for relief through the legal system or an alternative dispute resolution channel.
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