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REPORT: Have you protected your domain from cybersquatters?
Business is stolen
from successful web sites everyday. Did
you know that anyone with $35 can register a variation of your web site
name and set up shop in about five minutes? No ownership checks or
trademark searches are done at the time of registration. Since most
registration services are automated, even the most obviously malicious
names are approved with a click of the mouse.
Cybersquatting, the act of registering a name in bad faith, has
become one of the major problems facing businesses on the Internet. Although
the term Cybersquatting was originally used to describe the act of
registering another's trademarked name, the term is commonly used to
describe many different forms of bad faith registrations.
In order to protect yourself, you should be aware of the following forms of
cybersquatting and domain misappropriation.
'The Sneaky Competitor': One of your
competitors sets up a web site using a variation of your domain name in
order to lure your customers away. Since URLs can be hard to remember
or deduce, your competitor may be be able to lure away both existing
customers and new prospects. This can cost thousands in lost business.
2. 'The Porn Funnel': A variation of your domain name is used to 'funnel'
traffic into a pornographic web site. Operators of some adult web sites
use almost any method to attract new visitors. If one of these 'porn
pirates' registers a variation of your domain name, customers who
mistype your URL will be transported to a pornographic web page.
'The Employee Hate Site': A disgruntled
past (or present) employee reserves a variation of your company name to
post company secrets or gripes. Registering domain variations cannot
prevent critical sites, but it can minimize the incentive to create
these sites and the reduce the damage they can cause (a critical site
which is not found easily is less damaging).
'The 'Sucks' Site': Similar to #3, an
unhappy customer reserves YourCompanySucks.com in order to post
complaints about your business. This has become a virtual internet
phenomenon. In fact many savvy web users make it a habit to see if a
company 'sucks' web site exists before buying a product on-line. For
example, if John is about to buy a new pool table from
'coolpooltable.com', he first checks to see if 'coolpooltablesucks.com'
exists and contains any negative feedback.
'The Ransom Artist': Someone reserves a
variation of your company name before you can and then attempts to sell
it back to you for an outrageous amount. Fear of being victimized by
the above scenarios causes many companies to spend thousands to recover
names that were overlooked when they initially registered their domain
Can this really happen? Is this legal?
Yes, it can and does happen everyday. Is
it legal? Depending on the situation, site owners may have legal
recourse (e.g. trademark infringement lawsuits or arbitration).
However, even when a cybersquatter is breaking the law, it can be
time-consuming and expensive for a site owner to win a legal judgment,
especially if the cybersquatter is located in a different country. In
some circumstances, it is possible to reclaim names through domain
arbitration, however this can cost thousands and can take many months.
Full blown domain related law suits can take years and cost tens of
thousands of dollars.
(and cheapest) way to prevent most cybersquatting is to register a few
basic variations of your company name before the damage is done.
Which names should I register?
1. COM/NET/BIZ: Hopefully, you have already registered the .COM version
of your company name. To be safe, register the .NET and .BIZ
variations. Some companies also register the .ORG and .INFO variations
for additional safety.
2. Hyphenation: If your company name has more than one word in it,
register it both with and without a dash. (e.g. usair.com and
3. Singular/Plural: If your name lends itself to it, register its singular
and plural versions. (e.g. fordtruck.com and fordtrucks.com)
4. Common Misspellings: If your name can be easily misspelled, register common
misspellings (e.g. volkswagon.com and volkswagen.com)
5. And finally, the
juvenile sounding but damaging 'sucks' variation: Many experienced internet users routinely type in the
'sucks' variation of a company name on their browser to find complaints
about a company. Most savvy companies now make it standard procedure to
register this name before a vindictive person does. (e.g.
Isn't this going to get expensive?
Registering 'protective' domain names is
now becoming a necessary and expected cost for doing business on the
Internet. Luckily the domain registration industry has been recently
de-regulated. Domains which have traditionally cost $35 to register can
now be registered for about $20. A small price to pay to help protect
against the time and expense involved pursuing a cybersquatter.
Have you protected yourself from
By taking just a few minutes now, you can help prevent costly and
potentially embarrassing cybersquatting incidents from occurring...
Now that you know the basics tactics used
by cybersquatters, you may want to make a list of your domain names and
use the following worksheet to see if you are protected.
Cybersquatter Protection Worksheet
Are you protected?
| Basic domain
Where to register your domain name
You can use any active registrar to
register additional variations of your domain name. We use and
recommend Register.com. In our
opinion, they offer an excellent mix of advanced features, reliability
and knowledgeable support. If you use their service, be sure to take
advantage of their free URL forwarding feature. This will allow enable
you to link each of your domain name variations to your correct web
site without paying any additional hosting fees.
Due to our high volume, we have secured a
discounted rate of $20/yr with Register.com This special discount is
available to all BetterWhois visitors via the following link: