Cybersquatting is one of the most common and most threatening aspects of Online Brand Protection / Domain Name Disputes. Millions of domains containing the Trade Mark / Trade name of Brand owners are being cybersquatted every month.
Cybersquatting is the easiest violation that can be committed online. Registration of a domain name similar to an Organizations’ Trade Mark is expected to take only a few minutes and a few hundred rupees. The Domain Name Registrar is under no obligation to oversee or scrutinize the registration if a particular domain name violates (infringes) someone else’s Trade Mark. Hence, it is possible to register a domain name without any hardship.
While cybersquatting a domain name might not sound threatening, cybersquatting have far-reaching consequences. A cybersquatted domain name may be used for various illegal purposes / activities. Some of the most threatening consequences of cybersquatting include;
Phishing: Where a website identical to the Original Brand Owners’ Website is launched and business is conducted giving an impression that the cybersquatted website belongs to the brand owner. This is the most serious form of online infringement that would destroy the entire business of the brand owner and cause revenue loss, reputation loss, consumer mistrust and expose the brand owner to potential litigations from affected / cheated consumers.
Hate Sites: The Cybersquatted domain name may be used as a website to post defamatory / harmful / derogatory comments about the brand. This will affect the reputation of the brand since potential customers directed to this site might be forced to arrive at a wrongful opinion about the brand. Posting of negative comments about a brand or the brand owner may affect the reputation of the brand to a considerable extent.
Losing Business: One of the main intentions of the cybersquatting is to diert the consumers to the cybersquatted domain names. The concept of Search Engine Optimization (SEO), has made it very easy for a particular domain name to be listed in the top in a Search Engine. There are various modes through which the cybersquatter can attempt to list his cybersquatted domain higher than the domain of the original brand owner. This will result in enormous loss of web traffic for the brand owners. As a result, consumers searching for the brand may be diverted to the cybersquatted domain instead of the authentic domain of the brand causing revenue and consumer loss.
Consumer Trust: A consumer while searching for a particular brand on the internet might get frustrated with the brand and the brand owner if there are cybersquatted domain names containing the brand. Consumers expect the Trade Mark owners to take steps to protect their brand and to prevent cybersquatting. In other words, consumers expect the brand owners to police the cybersquatting of their domain names / trade marks and to take strict action on the infringers / cybersquatters. When the brand owners fails to protect his brand, prevent cybersquatting or does not take steps to retrieve the cybersquatted domain names, it implies that either the brand owner does not care about his brand being tarnished or he does not care about the consumer being misled.