When someone is using your domain name or one confusingly similar, there are ways to fight back.
One option to combat cybersquatting is to file a complaint with ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) under its arbitration procedures and request that the domain be transferred to you. When a domain name is registered with ICANN, the registrant submits to mandatory arbitration in the event of a dispute under ICANN’s Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP). UDRP arbitrations are significantly cheaper and faster than typical federal litigation, and results can sometimes be obtained in sixty days. In addition, UDPR outcomes tend to be pro-plaintiff because many UDRP arbitrators are trademark lawyers.
Another option is to file a complaint under the federal Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act. The ACPA is designed to thwart “cybersquatters” who register Internet domain names containing trademarks or trade names with no intention of creating a legitimate website, but instead plan to sell the domain name to the trademark owner or a third party at a premium. In addition, the ACPA is designed to reduce consumer confusion as to the source or sponsorship of web pages, and to ensure that when consumers visit a website for a particular company, they are reaching that company’s website and not that of another company whose products may be same or confusingly similar to those of the sponsor.
Successful plaintiffs under the ACPA can obtain a cancellation or transfer of the domain name plus money damages. Importantly, the ACPA does not prevent the fair use of trademarks or any use protected by the First Amendment, such as “gripe sites” or those complaining about the goods or services of another.