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What is Domain Squatting? Is it illegal? Have you ever done it?



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What is Domain Squatting? Is it illegal? Have you ever done it?

I'm seeing more and more in IT news sites about domain squatting or "cyber squatting" today where people are registering a domain name that is similar to the original and then basically benefiting from that in a monetary way. This has actually been going on since the mid 90's but appears to be getting more and more rife today as people attempt to find ways to "piggy back" off of someone else's success.

Other forms of cyber squatting involve registering domain names that look very similar to the original domain name or trade-mark and is called "typo squatting". And the other form is when cyber squatters try to register a domain name the original owners had forgotten to re-register before it expires who then go on to try and sell it back to the original owners for very large figure because they know the original owners need it to run their business.

Have you ever had one of your domains squatted on or had someone do typo squatting on your domain name? If so, how did you or how can you deal with it?

If it happens to you, how can you reclaim a squatted domain?

Thanks!

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Beverly

There are laws in some places against cybersquatting if the purpose is to buy a domain that is identical or similar to a company name and then sit on that name until it can be ransomed by the owner. This happens often with celebrity names and it can be difficult to litigate due to jurisdictional issues.

Just basically if you're using a name that in any way belongs to a company, you are going to end up in court over it. They might not own the domain name but they do have rights to exclusive use of that name.

Even similar names can land a person in hot water, as
MikeRoweSoft - sad but true, Microsoft actually went after a highschool kid for his similar domain name. Big companies do not play around with their property

Cybersquatting (also known as domain squatting), according to the United States federal law known as the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act, is registering, trafficking in, or using an Internet domain name with bad faith intent to profit from the goodwill of a trademark belonging to someone else

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idealmike

Thanks Bev! Yeah I remember that Microsoft Vs Mike Rowe Soft case now. So he ended up settling for an Xbox console with some games in the end and they paid for him to take a Microsoft certification course too. Microsoft have since admitted to being too heavy handed about it and ended up saying he was a bright lad with a bright future. So it's good that they decided to help him in this case but I would imagine he was very lucky and not every big corporation is as willing to do that for people that cyber squat or infringe upon their trademark. Also I wonder if he actually passed the Microsoft certification course they sent him on or not. I wonder where he is and what he's doing now. Also, is it just me, or does he look strikingly like Sheldon from the Big Bang Theory?

Mike Rowe.
What is Domain Squatting? Is it illegal? Have you ever done it?

Sheldon Cooper.
What is Domain Squatting? Is it illegal? Have you ever done it?
Uncanny!



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EliteWriter

Oh yes, I was saying just that the resemblance to Sheldon Cooper is striking. I am a big fan of his What is Domain Squatting? Is it illegal? Have you ever done it?

I believe that this case was handled too strictly. I do not think that his actual intent was to engage in squatting. Do you really think that what he did was in bad faith considering that it is after all his real name (even though he added the soft at the end - that is what enrage Microsoft)! There are coincidences such as this, and then there are obvious cases of cybersquatting done with bad intent to make a profit from typos and similar names. I think the issue is all about making a difference.



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idealmike

Yes! So it's not just me that thinks it! What is Domain Squatting? Is it illegal? Have you ever done it? Yes I don't think he had bad intent from the start and that M$ did go after him a bit hard. I could understand if his site was trying to sell M$ products like M$ OS's or M$ computers and stuff then that would be obvious that he was trying to piggy back off of M$'s success. But it wasn't like that, his site was his own portfolio where he sold his design packages which had nothing to do with M$ at all. So this wasn't really domain squatting so much as it was just a domain that sounded similar to theirs by a young lad who thought it nothing more than a bit of fun to add the word "soft" to the end of his domain name. But for some reason, M$ thought he was domain squatting and trying to take advantage of their good name by doing it but that wasn't the case. Whatever it was, he didn't think it through enough but he was lucky and come out of it with a free Xbox and M$ certification course. Not everyone gets that lucky and generally they would just prefer to shut the site down and that's it. But in this case, they decided to work with him and could see that he wasn't trying to pretend to be them or use their good name.

I was thinking about starting a domain called mycrowsoft.com it would be a website that was for people who were fans of crows that are soft to behold. What do you think? Do you think M$ would come after me!? What is Domain Squatting? Is it illegal? Have you ever done it?



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Lynne

LOL yes it looks like him just from high school, so he got some games and Microsoft products,that is amusing! Poor guy must have been terrified having Microsoft come after him!



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Everett

What's funny is that my legal name is very close to a basketball player, and a company that sell pajamas. I wonder if I somehow was able to buy a domain with my legal name in it, if these two parties could try to take me to court saying I am infringing upon copyrights, or because my name is too close to a pajama business name.

If that were to occur I would actually go to court, since It's completely legal for me to have this website name as my legal name, right? Maybe not. However, I wouldn't use the domain name to squat, or anything. I'll just make it a blog or website showcasing my work or history.



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idealmike

That's the thing with the Mike Row Soft and Microsoft case, he wasn't trying to be Microsoft or pretending to be them or pass himself off as them or even trying to use it to take advantage of their good name for his benefit. He only added the word "soft" to the end of his domain at the time for a bit of fun. But his site was basically his own portfolio site that he used to provide his illustration design services. It's not like he tried to sell M$ computers on his site or something so for them to be so adamant about their stance is no wonder it made such a story. I think that if he would have stood his ground, he could have won his case in court? I mean, even though he said that he didn't want it to go that far as he didn't want to be paying off legal fees for the rest of his life and he didn't monetize the traffic his site got when it was all happening so didn't earn anything off it. But hey, he got an Xbox and some games and a free MS training certificate out of it! That's kind of comical really when you think about it. Although it does show good on MS side. He should have fought it all the way and he could have won the right to keep the domain as it wasn't created to piggyback off of Microsoft's success and his site wasn't trying to be them either it was a personal portfolio website that sold his design services on (nothing to do with M$ at all). He should have just fought them it would have made a much more interesting story of Internet history to read! What is Domain Squatting? Is it illegal? Have you ever done it?

So as long as your site isn't trying to pretend to be them and doing the same thing as them or selling a similar product or a rival or competitors product or something then you should be allowed to do that. But the thing is, these big businesses and companies, they can afford to throw money at cease and desists notices and threaten and intimidate the smaller website and business owner and bully and scare them off from doing it. On the flip side though, sometimes these are out of place or gone about wrongly by those who think their brand name is being misused somehow. And in some cases, they shouldn't have even bothered trying because at the end of the day it's all free publicity right? What is Domain Squatting? Is it illegal? Have you ever done it?



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Everett

Even if I were to register for a domain name, because of my actual name, which im sure is trademarked, and copyrighted I would have to forfeit the domain name over because I wasn't the one whom trademarked or copyrighted it in the first place. So if my legal name is a business name, and I were to register for a domain, I would actually be infringing upon copyrights. It's very insane.

Also, another thing that gets me is, how can people trademark words? So if your website has a trademarked word would can someone file a suit against you saying that they have your trademarked word in the domain name? It's slightly confusing, and interesting at the same time.



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EliteWriter

Yes I know what you mean. It IS insane as ultimately it is about a first come first served basis I guess. And it is not fair for someone who actually needs to use his/her legal name.



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Everett

Yes, so if I even tried to register a domain with my real name it would be illegal. LOL What is Domain Squatting? Is it illegal? Have you ever done it?



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Lynne

Oh that is funny!

I have seen loads of websites trying to piggy back brand names and lots of affiliate marketing websites using brand names in their domain to try and get loads of traffic.

From what I understand if you use a brand name within your domain name Google will penalize you eventually? Not sure how true this is or maybe I am confused and the brand will catch up with your eventually and sue the living daylights out of you?

Either way I don't think it is an ethical practice no matter how much money you land up making or not making.



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Lynne

LOL I would say if it is your name you can use it, nobody can sue you for using your name as a domain name. That would be an interesting case.



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Corzhens

This is the first time that I have encountered the term domain squatting and from the way you explained, the domain is bought only to stagnate and later on sell for a higher value. That happened to my husband when he assisted a celebrity in creating a website. They were surprised that someone already owned the site that equals the name of the celebrity. When they contacted the owner, he replied once but did not reply anymore. Maybe they should have offered to buy the domain name?



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