Most online business owners are familiar with the concept of another (non-authorized) person taking a domain name that is similar to or the same as their business name (or trademark) with the intent of selling it to them or the highest bidder. This practice is called cybersquatting. It happens all the time. Fact: Over 400 variations of “Apple Watch” domains were registered the day it launched. Cybersquatters don’t just go after big fish — they also affect the smallest of businesses, from local companies to startups.
What can you do when you believe that someone has registered your business’ name unfairly? “The Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act (ACPA), 15 U.S.C. § 1125(d), is an American law enacted in 1999 that established a cause of action for registering, trafficking in, or using a domain name confusingly similar to, or dilutive of, a trademark or personal name.” This law is specifically designed to make it easier to take action against people buying names for the purpose of reselling. However, lawsuits aren’t the only way to resolve a domain issue.
There are many choices to solve a cybersquatting case, from a simple “Cease and Desist” note to a less-expensive domain arbitration. For more information, read our comprehensive blog post: “What to do if someone takes your domain”
Why has cybersquatting become even more prevalent? With new Top Level Domains launched in 2014 and 2015, there are over 575 new places “to the right of the dot” like .XYZ or .Website where your name can be taken and used for purposes of selling it back to you, setting up a competing site, or redirecting traffic to competitors. All these things can either directly or indirectly affect your search ranking, web traffic, and bottom line.
There’s never been an easy, manual way to track all the domains that match or are similar to your domain (until we created DomainSkate.) You can’t “just put it into a search engine” because often there are no websites to find – just domains that are waiting to be used and are effectively “invisible.”
We like to say that “cybersecurity starts with your domain.” It’s essential to monitor how your business name is being used online and what domains are out there that could pose an issue.
DomainSkate lets you track your brand name and first web address for free. Sign up for a trial today.
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