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Nelson Cyber Law, PLLC

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Federal Domain Disputes Attorney

National Domain Disputes Attorney

Skilled Representation for Domain Name Disputes and Cybersquatting

In the digital world, your domain name is an extension of your brand. In fact, with organizations that primarily do business online, consumers are often more familiar with the domain name than they are the company itself. Disputes often arise over the use of a name, and whether it was registered for the purpose of "cybersquatting"; e.g., profiting from the earned goodwill of another party. If you find yourself involved in a domain dispute, it is important to have skilled legal counsel in your corner aggressively pursuing your best interests.

At Nelson Cyber Law, we have in-depth knowledge of domain disputes and related areas of law. Attorney John Nelson lives and breathes cyber law, and he works tirelessly to stay on top of the latest changes in the ever-evolving digital world. John has both a legal and technological background; he understands the language of the online world, and he puts his unique skillset to work to give his clients the strong representation that they deserve.

Common Types of Domain Disputes

There are several types of disputes over domain names. Some of the most common include:

  • Cybersquatting: As mentioned earlier, this is the registration and/or trafficking of a domain name in bad faith and with the intent to profit from another party's trademark. For example, if a manufacturing company called ABC Widgets had a strong reputation and no website yet, another individual may purchase the name abcwidgets.com with the intent of reselling it to the company for profit.
  • Reverse-Cybersquatting: This occurs when a trademark holder attempts to take a domain away from another party who registered it for a legitimate purpose. Continuing with the ABC Widgets example, if, in the early days of the Internet, they had registered the domain abc.com and the broadcasting network by the same name brought a UDRP action (UDRP stands for Uniform Domain-name Dispute-Resolution Policy – essentially arbitration for domain names) for the domain name, the network may have no legal recourse because ABC Widgets has nothing to do with broadcasting/media and it registered/used the domain name for a lawful purpose.
  • Typosquatting: This is the practice of registering a commonly misspelled domain name that is similar to a trademarked name. The registrant directs traffic from users who typed in the wrong name to a different site for the benefit of the registrant. For example, an individual registers abcwedgets.com and redirects traffic to their own site in an attempt to profit from the earned goodwill of ABC Widgets.
  • Complaint/Gripe Sites: A gripe site is created to complain about an organization, or mock or ridicule a public figure, organization, or campaign. Sometimes, these sites are set up with a different extension of the URL of the organization (e.g., abcwidgets.net), or by adding an expletive or other descriptive word to the end of the original URL name (e.g., abcwidgetssucks.com).

How are Domain Disputes Resolved?

In many cases, a strong "cease and desist" letter can put an end to a domain name dispute. If a stern letter does not resolve the situation, there are two primary enforcement mechanisms; I-CANN's Uniform Domain-Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP) or by filing suit in federal court under the Anti-Cybersquatting Consumer Protection Act (ACPA).

Uniform Dispute Resolution

All I-CANN-accredited domain registrars are adoptees of their Uniform Domain-Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP). To be successful in a UDRP action, the trademark owner must show that the domain name is the same or confusingly similar to a trademark owned by the complaining party. The trademark owner must also show that the domain registrant has no legitimate right or interest in the name, and that the name was registered in bad faith.

The advantage of a UDRP action is that it is typically much faster than litigation, because the dispute is heard and decided on by an administrative panel rather than a court. The disadvantage is that the only potential resolution for the trademark owner (if they prevail in the action) is for the domain name to be canceled or transferred to the rightful owner. Monetary damages are not available through a UDRP action.

Anti-Cybersquatting Consumer Protection Act (ACPA)

The ACPA was passed by Congress in 1999 and is intended to make it easier for individuals and organizations to protect their trademarked name online. Similarly to a UDRP action, an ACPA action requires the trademark owner to show that the second-level domain registrant has no legitimate right to or interest in the name in question, acted in bad faith, and registered a name that was either the same or confusingly similar. The main difference is that an ACPA action is more expensive and protracted, but the trademark owner may also secure an injunction and be awarded monetary compensation along with the transfer of ownership of the domain name.

Domain name disputes are often highly complicated, and it can be challenging to prevail in a cybersquatting dispute. Attorney John Nelson understands the intricacies of cyber law, and what it takes to prevail in a UDRP or ACPA action. He also offers reasonable rates and provides a free, initial 30-minute consultation to assess your case. For skilled guidance with domain disputes in Florida and nationwide, contact our office today at 1-800-440-5536.

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