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.
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.
'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 name.
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
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
3. Singular/Plural: If your name lends itself to it, register its
singular and plural versions. (e.g. fordtruck.com and
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. verizonsucks.com)
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 $70 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 cybersquatters?
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.
Are you protected?
Basic domain name
Where to register your domain name variations?
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:
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