If Someone Registers a Domain Name that Violates your Trademark Rights,
You Have Legal Options.
Misspellings. Mistypes. Mistakes happen frequently when typing in domain names in search of a business. When they do, potential customers often land on pages other than your website. If the page they’re landing on infringes on your trademark rights, you can take legal action to reclaim your brand online and avoid potentially damaging buyer confusion.
The Law Behind Domain Disputes
It’s easy to register a domain name but that doesn’t give the owner legal rights to squat on the site or use it to violate your brand.
When someone registers a domain name, they are agreeing to not “infringe upon or otherwise violate the rights of any third party” according to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). In other words, if someone registers a domain name similar to yours and they are using it to either earn a profit from you or harm your brand, you have a case.
Do You Have a Domain Name Dispute Case?
In the most basic terms, if someone has registered a domain name that’s your trademark (or very similar to your trademark), you have a case.
Many people buy domain names that are close to another company’s trademarks with the end goal of selling them for a profit. Others use the domains to tarnish a brand or capture the attention of unsuspecting Internet users.
Regardless of whether or not they are using the domain to harm your brand,
you have two legal options:
Go Through Arbitration (UDRP) This is the simplest and fastest option. Uniform Domain-Name Dispute-Resolution Policy (UDRP) is a process put into place by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). It gives businesses the ability to resolve domain name disputes without having to go to court.
This type of arbitration occurs entirely by written submission. It is designed to be fast and inexpensive. There are no court proceedings or personal jurisdiction concerns. The one downside is that if you win, you only get to recover the domain name in the dispute – you cannot recover monetary damages or attorney’s fees. Most people and businesses opt for this option because of it’s speed.
File a Federal Lawsuit (ACPA) The Anti-Cybersquatting Consumer Protection Act (ACPA) is part of the Lanham Act, which covers trademark law. Within it, there’s a federal statute that determines whether someone who has registered a domain name is using it in bad faith.
Filing a federal lawsuit happens most often when:
– There are discussions around selling the domain name (also known as cybersquatting).
– The defendant’s goal is to attract consumers from the trademark’s website to their own.
– The defendant has profited from use of the domain name.
This type of lawsuit takes longer to prosecute and is generally more expensive than the UDRP Arbitration Process, but the plaintiff can recover monetary damages.
We Represent Both Plaintiffs and Defendants
in Domain Dispute Cases
Intellectual Property law often times leads to a lot of confusion – especially when there are confusingly similar trademarks in question. As a domain dispute law firm, we step in on both sides of cases to represent both plaintiffs and defendants.
If you have questions about a potential domain name dispute, or if you need representation after someone has made a claim against your domain, we want to talk to you.
Contact our office to share the details of your case with our domain dispute legal team. We’ll give you the legal guidance you need to reclaim your trademark and protect your reputation from unnecessary damage.
Our domain name appeared to be sold; it appeared as if our registration and ownership of the name had expired and someone had swooped in without our knowledge. All of a sudden we don’t have access.
The quality of the Firm’s performance was second to none. They showed perseverance as far as seeing it through to the end, making sure that they were a strong advocate of us, and getting this matter resolved as quickly as they could because they knew the time sensitivity of the issue.
– Brian Losure