Domain name disputes

Domain names are becoming increasingly important in today’s business environment and is the subject of many disputes. Many business owners have spent thousands of dollars marketing their trademark or service mark only to find another party improperly holding a similar domain and causing detrimental effects to the business. Specifically, there is a large problem with persons “cybersquatting” or registering domain names in bad faith, which harms the legitimate business owner. These cybersquatters often demand large sums of money to return the domain to the rightful business owner.

The Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (“UDRP”) was adopted by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (“ICANN”) in 2000 to address disputes between parties over the registration of Internet Domain Names. There are several situations in which the aggrieved party is required to submit to these mandatory administrative proceedings before one of the administrative dispute resolution service providers. A common situation is when a domain name has been registered by a party and is being used in “bad faith”. There are four primary circumstances when this “bad faith” occurs.

First, when a person acquires domain names primarily for selling the domain name registration to the rightful owner of a trademark or service mark for a commercial gain. Second, when the domain name is registered to prevent the legitimate business owner from using the domain name for his business. Third, when the registration is primarily for disrupting the business of a competitor. Fourth, when a person uses the registration to confuse consumers and direct the traffic to his or her business.

In order to prevail in the above situations, the rightful trademark owner must show three things. First, the domain name in use is similar or confusing to the actual mark. Second, the person who registered the domain name has no legitimate claim to the name. Third, the registration or use of the domain is in bad faith, which is similar to the above test. If a trademark owner can establish these elements, the domain name will be transferred to him. If you believe you are the rightful owner of a domain name which is being improperly used, please contact one of the attorneys at the Plus IP Firm for assistance.

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