Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act
If someone has registered an Internet domain name containing your name or the name of your product or business, you may have a cause of action against them under the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act, 15 U.S.C. §1125(d). This federal law allows individuals and companies to assume control of domain names that are identical or confusingly similar to their own, as long as they can prove that the domain name holder acted in bad faith. In determining whether a domain name holder has acted in bad faith, federal courts consider several factors, including but not limited to the following:
- the intellectual property rights of the person, if any, in the domain name;
- the extent to which the domain name consists of the legal name of the person;
- the person’s prior use, if any, of the domain name in connection with the bona fide offering of any goods or services;
- the person’s intent to divert consumers from the owner’s online location to a site accessible under the domain name;
- the person’s offer to transfer, sell, or otherwise assign the domain name to the owner or any third party for financial gain;
- the person’s provision of material and misleading false contact information when applying for the registration of the domain name, or intentional failure to maintain accurate contact information;
- the person’s pattern of conduct regarding the registration or acquisition of multiple domain names.
Proof of a violation of the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act may also entitle you to monetary damages, including statutory damages assessed for each domain name. You may have other causes of action if someone has wrongfully acquired a domain name containing either your name or the name of your product or business, so make sure you explore all possible remedies. The Internet is an evolving landscape, requiring Internet law to grow rapidly in order to keep pace. While the task may seem daunting, there are ways to protect your rights.
Christopher M. Harne is a partner at Killgore, Pearlman, Stamp, Ornstein & Squires, P.A. He concentrates his practice in the areas of Commercial and Civil Litigation.