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What is internet cybersquatting?

Cybersquatting is a term you may not have heard of in the past, but it is becoming more common. It is an act in which a person registers, uses or sells a domain name with a trademark he or she does not own. The individual's goal is to make a profit from the mark.

One example of this would be if you misspelled a popular company's name and created a website. For instance, "Microosft.com." The company could accuse you of using a misspelling of its name to your own benefit with the intention to collect traffic from "Microsoft.com." Cybersquatting takes advantage of existing businesses and their work.

The Anti-cybersquatting Consumer Protection Act, or ACPA, protects businesses from cybersquatters by allowing them to pursue a lawsuit against those who infringe on their trademarks or domain names. To be successful, the individual has to prove that the trademark was distinctive at the time of registration, so it would be clear that the business would obtain traffic. Second, the cybersquatter must have a bad faith intent to profit from the trademark.

Next, it will need to be proven that the new domain name is close enough to cause confusion. Finally, the trademark must be registered under federal law to be protected. If the prosecution can prove all these factors, then the cybersquatter's website must be taken down.

If you're worried about cybersquatting, know that you have the right to protect your business' name. You can look into taking legal action if reaching out to the party with the domain name does not help resolve the issue.

Source: FindLaw, "Internet Cybersquatting: Definition and Remedies," Oct. 19, 2017

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