How Trademark Owners Can Win Against Domain Squatters
Feeling frustrated? There may be a simple solution
So someone is using your company's brand name in their domain. To make matters worse, they are pretending to be you, poaching your leads, or jeopardizing your reputation by providing substandard service. Or maybe they are playing a different game - maybe they’re just holding the domain for ransom and demanding that you pay thousands of dollars for it.
What’s a brand to do?
If your brand owns a federally registered trademark, I have good news: there is a fast way to go after a domain squatter that is significantly cheaper than litigation. It’s called the Uniform Domain-Name Dispute-Resolution Policy. Since that doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, it’s UDRP for short.
What is UDRP?
UDRP is a policy established by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). ICANN is a non-profit organization tasked with managing the world of internet domains. All of the top level domains that you are familiar with ( .com, .net, .org, .io, etc.) are registered with ICANN and have to follow its rules.
One of those rules is the UDRP. The UDRP is a private arbitration process that can be initiated by any trademark owner who believes that someone has registered a domain in bad faith that is confusingly similar to their trademark. UDRP provides a way for trademark owners to have these bad faith domains either cancelled, or transferred to themselves, without going to court. UDRP has a lot of advantages because it is much cheaper and faster than litigation. A UDRP complaint can be resolved in as little as 2 months.
When UDRP is the Right Choice
UDRP is not appropriate for every situation. It is intended for clear-cut cases of bad faith. In other words, it is not appropriate for complex cases involving a genuine dispute between two potentially legitimate trademark owners.
So what does a clear-cut case of bad faith look like? You may have a solid case against another domain owner if:
The person acquired the domain name primarily for the purpose of holding it hostage and then selling it to you at a profit.
The person registered the domain specifically in order to stop you from using it.
The person registered the domain primarily in order to disrupt your business.
The person is intentionally attempting to attract customers to themselves by taking advantage of your name or reputation
Curious whether UDRP can help you take action against a bad faith domain owner who is infringing your brand? A good intellectual property attorney can help you determine whether you have a solid case and represent you through the process. UDRP is faster and cheaper than litigation, so it can be a great option for a trademark owner who needs an efficient solution.
Thanks for reading the Bevel Law Blog! While this information is hopefully helpful to you, nothing in this blog is intended to be legal advice. Always consult a lawyer before making any legal decisions based on topics in this blog.
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