By Linda Tancs
In our last post, we addressed the rise in cybersquatting–the act of using a domain name that mimics that of a brand. So what are your options against a cybersquatter? There are two prongs of attack if a cease and desist letter doesn’t work. The first option is to proceed with litigation against the squatter under the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act. The other option is to undergo arbitration of the domain name dispute with an agency such as the World Intellectual Property Organization in Geneva, Switzerland, the world leader in resolving domain name disputes. And no, you don’t need to fly there to handle the dispute. The documents are transmitted via fax or mail, as required by the rules. WIPO and other arbitral organizations like it have fixed fees for the undertaking of the arbitration, exclusive of other costs such as legal assistance in preparing the paperwork. Costs of arbitration should generally be cheaper than litigation, but a suit under the ACPA allows for the opportunity to request and receive an award of damages from the squatter. Conversely, arbitration only allows for the transfer or cancellation of the domain name in dispute. Of course, regardless of the dispute resolution mechanism you choose, you’ll need to prove your case–that is to say, that the disputed domain name is infringing on your trademark rights.
This post is not intended to be taken as legal advice. Readers should obtain legal advice that is particular to their needs.