This is a guest contribution by Lenny Borodin, iGaming and Licensing Executive at Prospectacy LTD. If you would like to submit a contribution please contact Bill Beatty for submission details. Thank you.
There are hundreds of millions URLs our there on the World Wide Web. Yet some of the word combinations are so valuable that they command price tag in the millions. Obviously, with asset being so valuable while still very intangible, there is bound to be perpetrators looking to benefit from properties of unwary owners. Those Internet malefactors are widely known as domain or cyber squatters.
So how specifically do cyber squatters take advantage of high value domains? There are various methods in their arsenal ranging from unethical down to outright illegal. Previously, most common was purchase of expired domains. Business owners would forget to renew their domains only to see them hijacked with help of automated programs tracking expirations. After that, squatters would offer entrepreneurs to buy domains back at premium price. Owners would either have to ante up some serious money or face the hassle of moving business website to a new domain. All the while, squatter would be monetizing the existing traffic via ad displays on snatched domain. To make matters worth, business would be dealt a serious setback in client confidence and retention unless hefty buyback demands are satisfied.
Methods of domain hijacking can get even more illicit once business grew into an established, industry-leading brand. Monetary and reputation losses could be so high that business stakeholders would drop some serious cash to get domain back. To achieve their goal, intruders would go as far as sending out phishing e-mails in order to gain the registrar access information. Having obtained access, squatters would transfer it to different registrar. Once that was done, recovery of domain would be a complicated and lengthy process. Less clandestine but also reputation damaging would be the practices of Trademark Infringement and Bad Faith Registration. In this case, squatter would buy a domain name bearing similarity to established brand or even person. Resemblance is achieved by choosing the same name with different domain extension or very similar domain easily confusing the visitors.
As precise example of Trademark Infringement, team at Prospectacy LTD handled the case of alternate domain extension. Client was a leading online business operator in one of the most lucrative business sectors on the web. Trademark rights secured their name and brand and core domains were safely stored. However, squatter was able to acquire exactly matching domain name with widespread alternate extension. In order to monetize, perpetrator rolled out a website with design and trademark names of client impersonating one of their web properties. They would then aggressively market and promote the clone. Visitors of the website would be re-routed to competitors of the legit business causing monetary loss as well as reputation damage.
Our specialists identified the registrar where squatter placed their domain. Complaint was lodged with World Intellectual Property Organization Arbitration and Mediation Center. It was successfully proven that case satisfied Uniform Dispute Resolution Policy and Rules. Irrefutable presented evidence of Trademark Infringement and Bad Faith Registration resulted in decision to transfer of domain from squatter to client.
This is only one of the cases where unsuspecting online business brand’s Intellectual property rights and online image sustained offence from domain squatting. With cyber intruders getting more and more resourceful, every thriving online business should establish online asset protection policy based on best expertise available from leading industry professionals.
About the author:
Lenny Borodin has over 5 years over of experience in iGaming advisory and licensing matters. Prospectacy comprises network of companies with team of professionals assisting with international corporate, legal and business consultancy with solid clientele in iGaming industry.