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Cybersquatting (also known as domain squatting), according to the United States federal law known as the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act, is registering, trafficking in, or using an Internet domain name with bad faith intent to profit from the goodwill of a trademark belonging to someone else. The cybersquatter then offers to sell the domain to the person or company who owns a trademark contained within the name at an inflated price.

The term is derived from "squatting", which is the act of occupying an abandoned or unoccupied space or building that the squatter does not own, rent, or otherwise have permission to use.

Technical strategies for cybersquatters[edit]

Cybersquatters sometimes register variants of popular trademarked names, a practice known as typosquatting.

Legal resolution[edit]

Some countries have specific laws against cybersquatting beyond the normal rules of trademark law. The United States, for example, has the U.S. Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act (ACPA) of 1999. This expansion of the Lanham (Trademark) Act (15 U.S.C.) is intended to provide protection against cybersquatting for individuals as well as owners of distinctive trademarked names. However, even notable personalities, including rock star Bruce Springsteen and actor Kevin Spacey, failed to obtain control of their names on the internet.[1]

Jurisdiction is an issue, as shown in the case involving actor Kevin Spacey, in which Judge Gary A. Feess, of the United States District Court of the Central District of California, ruled that Spacey would have to file a complaint in a Canadian court, where the current owner of resided. Spacey later won the domain through the National Arbitration Forum.


Since 1999, the United Nations copyright agency, World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), has provided an arbitration system wherein a trademark holder can attempt to claim a squatted site. In 2006, there were 1823 complaints filed with WIPO, which was a 25% increase over the 2005 rate.[2] In 2007 it was stated that 84% of claims made since 1999 were decided in the complaining party's favor.[2]

Notable cases[edit]

With litigation[edit]

Without litigation[edit]

Social media[edit]

With the rising of social media websites such as Facebook and Twitter, a new form of cybersquatting involves registering trademark-protected brands or names of public figures on popular social media websites.

On June 5, 2009, Tony La Russa, the manager of the St. Louis Cardinals, filed a complaint against Twitter, accusing Twitter of cybersquatting.[8] The dispute centered on a Twitter profile that used La Russa's name, had a picture of La Russa, and had a headline that said "Hey there! Tony La Russa is now using Twitter." The profile encouraged users to "join today to start receiving Tony La Russa's updates." According to La Russa, the status updates were vulgar and derogatory. La Russa argued that the author of the profile intended, in bad faith, to divert Internet traffic away from La Russa's website and make a profit from the injury to La Russa's mark.[8] On June 26, 2009, La Russa filed a notice of voluntary dismissal after the parties settled the case.[9]

Efforts to curtail cybersquatting in social media[edit]

Social networking websites have attempted to curb cybersquatting, making cybersquatting a violation of their terms of service.


Twitter's name squatting policy forbids the cybersquatting as seen in many domain name disputes, like "username for sale" accounts: "Attempts to sell or extort other forms of payment in exchange for usernames will result in account suspension.[10] " Additionally, Twitter has an "Impersonation Policy" that forbids non-parody impersonation. An account may be guilty of impersonation if it confuses or misleads others; "accounts with the clear intent to confuse or mislead may be permanently suspended." Twitter's standard for defining parody is whether a reasonable person would be aware that the fake profile is a joke.[11] Lastly, soon after the La Russa suit was filed, Twitter took another step to prevent "identity confusion" caused by squatting by unveiling "Verified Accounts.[12] " Usernames stamped with the "verified account" insignia indicate that the accounts are real and authentic.


Facebook reserves the right to reclaim usernames on the website if they infringe on a trademark.[13] Trademark owners are responsible for reporting any trademark infringement on a username infringement form Facebook provides. Furthermore, Facebook usernames require "mobile phone authentication.[13] " In order to obtain a username, the individual needs to verify the account by phone.

See also[edit]


External links[edit]