Since the entire world has started accessing the internet, the modern world prefers marketing online. Everyone relies on technology for getting even basic information about life necessities. With all the information and facilities at our fingertips, businesses are reaching great heights using this opportunity. But what makes a business in the online world stand out from the rest? It is a domain name. Yes, you read that right! A domain name is the professional identification of any business. Setting up a domain name on the name of a business brand allows customers to recognize the website easily. Generally, a domain name consists of a trademark belonging to an organization/business or can classify a trademark symbolizing recognition of a company in the marketplace. Companies register their domain names to attract potential consumers, thereby building goodwill and reputation in the market. “What’s in a name?” is a famous saying by William Shakespeare. When it comes to the internet, it is all the name game. Through cybersquatting, many top brands can face issues of getting their online identity stolen. The act of registering, selling, or using a domain name containing a trademark for profit that the registrant does not own is known as cybersquatting.
Difference between domain reselling and cybersquatting
The term domain reseller refers to an individual or business that provides domain registration services through a domain registrar. In other words, anyone can become a domain reseller by joining the reseller or partner program offered by any registrars. The process of purchasing a domain name from the registrar and selling it to the end clients help resellers to gain profit. To become a Domain Name reseller, one needs to set up an account with an ICANN Accredited Domain Name Registrar. The success rate of Domain Reselling depends on the profit margins incurred by selling domains. Choosing a reseller plan that promises to offer a lucrative discount on the services they offer could be one of the smart moves.
An unauthorized registration or usage of a domain name is known as cybersquatting. In other words, cybersquatting is also known as domain squatting. It is the act of registering a domain name in the name of a well-known registered brand or a confusingly similar name and then attempting to sell it to the owner or a third party for gaining higher profit. These cybercriminals mimic domain names similar to popular and highly trafficked websites without the authorization of the original owners. Cybersquatters neglect the existence of trademarks to gain profits. In short, it is one of the several types of cybercrimes. Few victims include Panasonic, Fry Electronics, Hertz, and Avon. Keep reading to know about some other cases.
Cybersquatting – In the news
Yahoo Inc. v Akash Arora & Anr.
In the case of Yahoo Inc. v Akash Arora & Anr. (1999 IIAD Delhi 229), plaintiff’s filed a lawsuit. Yahoo Incorporation’s trademark Yahoo was misused as a domain YahooIndia.com was created. The defendant argued that “Yahoo” is a general word that is neither unique nor invented and did not possess an element of distinctiveness. Further, the Court decided in favor of the plaintiff and stated that the service rendered by the plaintiff on the internet had become recognized and accepted globally.
Rediff Communication Limited v/s Cyberbooth
Another judgment on cybersquatting was by the Hon’ble Bombay High Court on Rediff Communication Limited v. Cyberbooth and Another (AIR 2000 Bombay 27). In that case, ‘radiff.com’ was registered, similar to the plaintiff’s domain name ‘rediff.com’ and the Court’s decision was in favor of the plaintiff, and it went on to state that any domain name is not just an internet address but is entitled to protection equal to a registered trademark.
Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has adopted the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP) for dealing with cybersquatting as the only regulatory authority. However, in the United States, the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act was enacted.
It takes a lot of effort to build a brand reputation. Misusing any brand name by simply using a similar domain name and earning benefits is unethical and a punishable offense. As the entire world has switched to online platforms and relies upon technology, there is a need to protect unique domain names, and as a result, the crimes will reduce in every country.