5 Tips to Protect Your Domain from Cybersquatting

Protect your space on the internet from cybersquatters.

What is Cybersquatting and who needs to worry about it? All small business owners who have or are working towards establishing a Web presence need to be concerned.

According to the Anti-Cybersquatting Consumer Protection Act (ACPA), cybersquatting is defined as “registering, trafficking in or using a domain name with the intent to profit in bad faith from the goodwill of a trademark belonging to someone else.” Here are some tips to avoid cybersquatting, and information on how to get help if you are the victim of it.

1. Make sure to trademark your company’s name, tag line and logo as soon as these have been established. Proof of trademark will be needed down the road if you run into a dispute about a domain. Visit the United States Patent and Trademark Office for more information on trademarks at http://www.uspto.gov/main/trademarks.htm.

2. Get a domain name now, even if you have not formally incorporated or set up your business. Many cybersquatters buy domain names in bulk, so the quicker you can identify possible names you are interested in and register them, the better off you will be. If you plan to use your name in your business, be sure to get domains for that as well. Read 5 Tips for Domain Naming for more information on how to do this.

3. Purchase domains that are close to yours but could be a misspelling of your domain name. That way if someone types your company name incorrectly, they will still be directed to your site. In addition, you should purchase .biz, .net and .mobi extensions of your domain so if someone uses the wrong extension, they will still find your company.

4. Be sure to keep your domain registrations current. Most registrations expire within a couple of years, and once your registration has lapsed, your domain will be up for grabs. Stay on top of your registrations before it is too late.

5. If you think you have been a victim of cybersquatting, first try to contact whoever has registered the domain using “WHOIS Lookup” at whois.net. If you do not succeed in resolving the issue, you can file a suit with the ACPA, or you can initiate arbitration proceedings with the Internet Corporation of Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). under the Uniform Domain Dispute Resolution Policy (UDNDRP). Find information about filing a complaint at the ICANN website.