Types of Domain Name Disputes

Cybersquatting…Reverse-Cybersquatting…Typosquatting…these and other domain name dispute terms listed below refer to Internet law violations that result in lost revenue and sales, damaged online and offline reputation, and a host of other issues for business owners whose rights have been violated.

Dispute Type Overview

The domain name system (DNS) is a way for consumers to easily navigate the Internet. Common domain name violations facing businesses and individuals include:

Cybersquatting: US law defines cybersquatting as “registering, trafficking in, or using a domain name with bad-faith intent to profit from the goodwill of a trademark belonging to someone else.”

Cybersquatters typically have no use for these domain names, except to resell them and turn a profit. Businesses are often frustrated to learn that a domain name relating to their business name or trademarks has already been registered and is owned by a cybersquatter.

Reverse-Cybersquatting: Reverse cybersquatting occurs when a trademark holder attempts to wrestle a domain name from someone that lawfully registered the name at an earlier point in time.

For example, if a corporation named “Morgan Lewis Bockius” registered the name “mlb.com” for use as a website address for a law firm, and Major League Baseball attempted to sue the law firm for trademark infringement and the use of the name, this would be an example of reverse cybersquatting.

Since the law firm had nothing to do with baseball, Major League Baseball’s trademarks were not being abused. Major League Baseball could buy the name, of course, but could not recover it in a lawsuit or arbitration proceeding.

Typosquatting: A typosquatter is a person who registers domain names with common typos of major domain names to attempt to divert traffic to sites that benefit the registrant.

For example, “microsotf.com” was created to take advantage of people who intended to visit the Microsoft® website, but misspelled the domain name in their web browser. This practice, also known as “URL hijacking” or “web address hacking” takes advantage of the good name of the domain owner to send visitors somewhere else.

Second Level Domain Name Disputes: A second-level domain (SLD) on the Internet is the name or text directly below (or typically to the left) of a top-level domain (TLD).

For example, if on a webpage named “www.readmypage.com”, the “.com” is the top level domain, and “readmypage” is the second level domain, because is specifies which site to visit of all of the “.com” websites available online.

If you register a name such as “Xeroxsucks.com” (and we do not imply that it does, it’s just an example!) Xerox® may have a claim for the use of its name without its consent.

Gripe Sites: While there are often related free speech issues, legal action may be taken in cases of so-called “gripe sites” where an unhappy domain name owner registers a name to complain about a particular company and their dissatisfaction with that product or service. While the content explaining the webmaster’s unhappiness is likely protected, the domain name may not be protected by virtue of trademark issues.

Subdomains: Similar to second level domain names, a subdomain dispute refers to the use of a mark in the very first portion of the domain. For example, if our site used the address xerox.readmypage.com (again, just an example) Xerox® would potentially have a claim against Readmypage for use of its name without the right to do so.

Domain Name Warehousing: This is the practice of “holding” expired domains instead of releasing them back into the public domain. By preventing certain domains from being released, the registrar hopes to resell the domains to the previous registrant or a new registrant at a higher rate than the market price.

Grace Period Violations: Also known as domain name “kiting” or “tasting,” this practice occurs when a registrant registers a domain name for a temporary purpose, but then takes advantage of the domain purchase grace period to reject more permanent ownership.

Contact an experienced domain attorney who can help you determine the types of domain law violations and the proper course of action today.