CyberSquatting is the action of attempting to profit by purchasing domain names made of marketable and trademark related terms, and later reselling or licensing those names back to the companies that developed the trademark.
That is, CyberSquatters undertake the deliberate, abusive registration of domain names in violation of the rights of trademark owners. Abusive registration of a domain names is defined by WIPO as:
- Registration of a domain name which is identical or misleadingly similar to a trademark.
- A registration which the registrant has no rights to, or legitimate interests in, with respect to the domain name.
- Wherein the domain name has been registered and is used in bad faith.
ICANN and its UDRP
ICANN is involved in counteracting cybersquatting through its creation and implementation of the Uniform Domain Name Resolution Policy, or UDRP. All registrants of .com, .net and .org domains have been subject to the UDRP since 2000. WIPO made proposals on domain name security in 2000; they called for a uniform dispute resolution policy and review panels to arbitrate the disputes. After continued work with ICANN, the UDRP was accepted at ICANN's Los Angeles meeting in November, 2000, and it was implemented two months later.
ICANN has had to postpone, and readdress, its plans to begin the creation of large amounts of gTLDs given WIPO's concerns over the high amounts of CyberSquatting complaints. In 2008, WIPO received 2,329 cybersquatting complaints; that was greatest number of complaints received since the creation of the UDRP. Thus, WIPO, the U.S. government, and other interested parties are concerned over ICANN's plans to liberalize the creation of new gTLDs. ICANN, in response has suggested the creation of a database, or IP Clearinghouse, which would compile information on trademark holders and use it defensively to make it more difficult for cybersquatters to register trademark related terms.
In America, a trademark owner is able to sue over alleged cybersquatting through The Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act; and in some cases the cybersquatter has been made to not only hand over the trademarked domain but also pay money damages.