Cybersquatting has been a major problem for trademark owners since the mid 1990’s. When domains were initially introduced as “addresses” on the Internet, some individuals started purchasing domains containing the names of famous products, the names of popular retailers and even the names of famous people. They would then offer to sell the name to the company for huge prices — hundreds of thousands of dollars or even millions of dollars. This was totally unacceptable for trademark owners and the owners of popular retailers. Consequently, there was pressure for the establishment of the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (which was enacted by ICANN). Furthermore, federal laws were enacted by Congress to provide substantial penalties for cybersquatting activity. The fines can amount to $100,000 per domain name.
Domain name lawyers soon became active in assisting trademark owners in obtaining the domains to which they were entitled. Domain name attorneys began to sue cybersquatters in federal courts to obtain large monetary recoveries for trademark owners. A description of the rights of trademark owners can be found on ICANN.org. A description of the legal enforcement procedures is described on the website Domain-Name-Lawyers.com which discusses both the federal laws and the arbitration procedures that can be used to obtain damages and to sue cybersquatters. Another site that describes in detail the arbitration proceedings is WIPO.int which is the official site of the World Intellectual Property Organization – one of the organizations that is an arbitrator of domain disputes.
As the Internet continues to grow domain name attorneys have been able to effectively enforce the laws to ensure that companies can obtain the name that cybersquatters may have registered.