A Quick Guide to All U.S. Domain Squatting Laws16th November, 2022
Domain squatting is a serious problem that can impact companies in the U.S. and across the globe, including new startups and long-standing businesses that are revamping their presence on the internet. Any business in the U.S. that is dealing with domain squatting should understand its legal options and how a domain name attorney can help.
What does your business need to know about U.S. domain squatting laws and their applicability? Generally speaking, there are two key domain squatting laws that are relevant to U.S. businesses. These laws can allow companies to recover domains and increase business on the internet. In order to explain the relevant domain squatting laws in the U.S., our experienced domain name lawyers will first clarify how domain squatting works and how it harms American businesses. Then, we will say more about applicable U.S domain squatting laws and how our firm can assist you.
What is Domain Squatting?
To understand domain squatting laws that may be applicable to you, it is important to understand what domain squatting involves. In short, domain squatting is a term that refers to the practice in which a party purchases a domain name so that another party cannot buy it. Then, typically, the party that has purchased the domain name will attempt to sell it at a much higher price than they initially paid in order to make a profit. Another name for domain squatting is cybersquatting.
Typically, domain squatters might try to find out about new businesses and brand names, or recently registered trademarks, and they may attempt to buy a domain name associated with those brands or trademarks in order to prevent the business from buying them. Then, they will try to sell the domain name to the business for a profit.
Applicable Domain Squatting Laws and Options for Dealing with Domain Squatting
If your business has a domain squatting problem — meaning that your business’s likely domain name has already been purchased by a domain squatter — you may have multiple options for resolving the issue. There are a number of relevant laws that apply to businesses in the U.S., including more informal options for recovering your domain name. Your business should speak with a domain squatting lawyer about one or more of the following options:
- Informal contact and negotiation: While there is no specific federal statute or governing international law that describes the practice for contacting and negotiating with a domain squatter or cybersquatter, you may be able to get in touch with the domain squatter to discuss the possibility of having the domain name transferred. How can an attorney help you with this process? Before filing a formal legal petition under a specific statute or going through existing arbitration provisions, it may be possible to provide the domain squatter with information about why you need to have the domain transferred and what a fair price is to pay. A domain name lawyer at our firm can handle the process of contacting the cybersquatter and attempting to negotiate a fair price for the domain name. During this process, we can provide the domain squatter with evidence that would support a claim if an agreement cannot be reached.
- Cease and desist letter: Similar to informal contact and negotiation with the domain squatter, there is no specific federal statute or international body that governs cease and desist letters to domain squatters. However, this is a legal option that you can pursue. Typically, you will want to send a takedown letter after you have attempted more informal negotiations with the domain squatter and have attempted to negotiate a reasonable purchase price for the domain transfer. One of our domain name attorneys can draft a takedown letter, and we can send it to the domain squatter. When we send a takedown letter to the domain squatter, we can also send the information to the website host.
- Anti-CyberSquatting Consumer Protection Act (ACPA) lawsuit: If informal negotiations or a takedown letter are ineffective, you may be able to file a lawsuit under the ACPA. In order to win an ACPA lawsuit, you will need to be able to prove a bad faith intent to profit from the domain name. Our attorneys can gather evidence to show a bad faith intent to help you win your case.
- Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP) claim: As an alternative to an ACPA lawsuit, you may be able to file a UDRP claim, which is a process through the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). One of our domain name attorneys can help you to prove the three required elements in order to win your claim, which include the following: 1) the domain is identical (or similar enough to be confusing) to your trademark, 2) the domain is owned by someone without legal rights to it, and 3) domain was registered in bad faith.
Contact Our Domain Name Lawyers
If you need assistance determining your legal options for recovering a domain name or handling a domain squatting issue, one of our domain name lawyers can help. Contact ESQWire today.