Someone squatting my domain: how do I win it back w/o legal expenses?

Some dude has cyber-squatted the .com, .net, and .org of my organization’s name last year. And in that time, he has not developped any website for those names. (I live in Canada, btw.)

The name of the domain is exactly the same as the name of my organization. In fact, after I e-mailed him asking what he was planning on doing with the .com version, he quickly registered the .org AND .net!

He made up some phoney-baloney story about how some other dude was going to pay $2,000 for the .com. Pure BS. He was trying to get me to spend that much on it - although he never formally offered to sell it to me. I didn’t bite.

I’d like to get the site name back from him now. But I don’t want to deal with lengthy legal procedings. I supposed I could wait to see if he abandons the domain names, but I would rather get it ASAP.

Is there a simple procedure for winning a domain name back from a cybersquatter? To me, it seems like a pretty clear-cut case of cyber-squatting. He registered all three and didn’t create any of the associated sites!

Please advise!

If all he’s doing is squatting, you’re SOL.

He doesn’t have to create websites. People can registrer domains, and just sit on them, use them for mail addresses, and all kinds of other things if they wan’t. The only time, as I understand it, you have any recourse is if the domain is your registered trademark, and you can prove that he did it to take business away from you, or to make you buy it back from him. And then, you will still have to go through the courts. You might try getting the .tv domain(if you do, don’t register it through .tv, do it through network solutions or som other register…its cheaper).

But I read somewhere that if you can prove “bad faith”, you can win your website back. So if he just sat on them, w/o producing anything on any of them for almost a year, wouldn’t that be bad faith?

Anyway, isn’t there some kind of international board that rules on these domain disputes?

The Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (“UDRP”) was adopted by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (“ICANN”) on October 24, 1999. All .com, .net, and .org domain name registrants are required to abide by the terms of the UDRP.

In order to initiate a UDRP proceeding, you must submit a complaint to one of the administrative-dispute-resolution service providers listed at http://www.icann.org/udrp/approved-providers.htm, that states:

a) The domain name you are complaining about is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which you have rights; and
b) The registrant of the domain name you are complaining about has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of that domain name; and
c) The registrant has registered and is using the domain name you are complaining about in bad faith. In addition, your complaint must conform to the Rules for Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy which are available at http://www.icann.org/udrp/udrp-rules-24oct99.htm, as well as the selected administrative-dispute-resolution service provider’s supplemental rules.

WIPO, the World Intellectual Property Organization is the body you’re thinking of. They have a “fast-track” procedure for reclaiming domains from cyber-squatters. Or, you can pursue ICANN’s policy as Bill H. outlines…

There is also the U.S. Anticybersquatting code (not the official name) which is 15 United States Code, Section 1125(d). I see you are Canadian, but if the squatter is in the U.S. I think this would be applicable. However, the U.S. law can only be applied in a U.S. federal court, with the attendant expense of counsel etc.

You are much better off with the UDRP, but keep in mind that the UDRP is not free either. You still have to pay to have an arbitration panel convened and you will probably need someone to draft a simple complaint for you. Figure at least a few thousand U.S. dollars.

Finally, at least under the U.S. code, the squatter’s failure to make a bona fide offering of goods or services under the domain name can be evidence of the squatter’s bad faith.

[QUOTE]
*Originally posted by jdl *
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It would help prove your case, but domains aren’t just for web-sites. He could set up a mail server, for instance, on that domain so that he could have mailto:squater@squattedondomain.com and that would be using it even if there is no page. Also, the domain could be used for name resolution on his lan, without a web page. We have several domains registered where I work, with no web pages on them. If the name of the domain is something that he could concievably have a reason to want to use, other than inconvienincing you, then you wouldn’t have much of a case. If the name of the domain is a commonly used phrase or word for example. If he can say he is starting a buisiness in the future that would use it, but is not ready to “open his doors” just yet, he can reserve the names and sit on them till he is ready to use them.

What is the domain he is squatting on?

FYI: I just received an e-mail advertisement saying “reserve your ‘.biz’, ‘.name’ or ‘.info’ domain now!” I’m not sure what the exact time frame is for implementation of those top-level domains but you could try for the “.biz” version. Or, since you’re in Canada, you could reserver a “.ca” domain, if you don’t want to go to the trouble and expense of legal proceedings.

If you have an organization, you’d want the ORG extension.

TV extension is very expensive.

I saw they have a WS (website) extension, I don’t know how much that is.

Otherwise, the best thing is just make your own website name only use another variation of it. It’s very common to do that.

Yeah, you can register another domain, such as .ca, but that’s not the point. Domain-name squatting is one of my pet peeves, and people who engage in this for personal gain need to be shut down. It hurts all of us when we can be shaken down for thousands (or millions) of dollars in order to use a domain because someone with no legitimate interest bought up a whole bucket of them for $30 each. I’d say fight this one, and fight it hard. If everyone would do this, and would NOT pay the ransoms these assholes demand, the Internet would run a whole lot smoother. Just my opinion.

If a person pays money for a domain he should have the right to use it or not. If I buy a Picasso sure it ought to be in a gallery where everyone can see it but I can’t force someone to display it if the owner wants to lock it up in the closet.

You lacked the forsight to register a name. I was advising people as far back as 1995 to register. They were too cheap to pay the money back then. I mean come on as long as the guy isn’t slandering you it sounds like your mad he beat you to the punch.

Just change your domain name. Put an _ or - in it. Put THE or Company after it. THEMARKCO.com or whatever be creative.

THe whole thing reminds me of a lawyer in Chicago, Joel Hyatt. The Hyatt Hotel chained sued him. That is his name Joel Hyatt. The courts ruled for him. They said he could do business and advertise as Hyatt Legal Servce. (he did ad "not afflitated with Hyatt Hotels)

And really $2000 for a company isn’t a lot. You could put that on a credit card and pay it off over two years.

Nah, only if you register it with .tv. I just registered a .tv extension domain for my church. Cost 50 bucks. Through .tv it was several hundred. .tv states on thier site that they are the only one who can register it, but Network Solutions can register .tv also.

Unless you need it soon, I say wait until July (or September, estimates vary among domain name registrars) when the .biz, .name, .info, and four other domain suffixes come out and watch while the bottom falls out of the squatting business. Some registrars are allowing people to “pre-register” domain names. Actual pre-registration is prohibited by ICANN, so it’s not clear what is being sold as “pre-registration”.

Or be patriotic and use .ca. (Hmm, I wonder if we can convince them to give Texas a two letter country code.)

I have to disagree with you Markxxx. In this situation, we can assume that the OP’er’s company has expended a significant amount of money to build a recognizable brand name that people can identify with his product (we can assume this because if they haven’t, then the case is over and “Mr. Squatter” wins). Mr. Squatter comes along and purposefully interferes with the OP’ers right to exploit the famous brand name the OP’er has developed. In other words, Mr. Squatter has registered this name for no other reason than to be a jerk. He apparently has no intention to do anything with the name other than to try to extort money from the trademark holder.

Now, if Mr. Squatter has any legitimate use for the domain name, then I agree with you - the OP’er can go home and develop a new name. But absent that, the squatter is just being a jerk.

I think a better anology would be if I paid a significant amout of money to enter an art gallery for the purpose of admiring a Picasso. Now Mr. Squatter comes along and stands in front of me so that I can’t see the painting. Not only that, but the jerk’s got his eyes closed while he’s doing it so that he isn’t enjoying the Picasso either.

I agree with you that companies should have the forsight to register their name with the major TLDs and also register the obvious variants and misspellings of their name (they should also probably register “COMPANYXSUCKS.com” while they’re at it, but that’s another topic), however, I don’t believe that that lack of foresight gives squatters the right to make a profit simply by holding a famous trademark hostage.

Please see the Great Debates thread Cyber-Squatting: Legal investment strategy or invasion of the identity snatchers?

My post there is lengthy so I won’t burden the board with a huge C&P except for this:

Well, a note from the other side. My city mayor did not take her name for 5 years & I searched the country & found there were about 5 people with her exact name. So, what I did was register her name & used it by giving it to a guy who wrote true things about her to remind people just what kind of mayor she is. She wrote in the newspaper wondering about my moral principals. But the fact of the matter is, as one person said above, if they didn’t take their name it’s a fair assumption they didn’t want it.

Of course as soon as people started to notice that I had it, then she did too & then she got all whiney. Best $70 I ever spent even though she did win the election again :slight_smile:

Wait, you emailed the guy and after that he then registerd .ORG and .NET. Why didn’t you register those before he did? Only you can really decide how clear cut a case you have on the rights to the name. You could certainly save time (and some expense) by simply buying them. Offer him something less than 2k though, make empty legal threats :slight_smile: as well.

As for cyber-squatting, I dunno, I see nothing wrong with buying a domain that you “speculate” may be worth something to somebody at sometime, some fairly generic domain. I am not talking about specific names, but you may notice reallyreallyreallycoolstuff.com isn’t registered and register it thinking maybe somebody at some time may want it, but not really having anything specific in mind.

in a cnet article (no I won’t look it up, but you can) they stated that the actual domain name doesn’t mean that much anymore. And with the new ones (.tv, .biz, .whatever) well that will just make the actual name less important.

Also you have to figure - what is the domain name you want really worth to your company? Are you loosing anything of value by using a variation of your name? If so then this is how I’d go about it:
1 get another domain name registered - one that your willing to use if negociations fail.
2 Actually put something up there - not professional but something decent.
3 come up with an amount you are willing to pay for your domain name that you have your heart set on (i.e. $800).
4 contact that person, let them know you are intrestind in that site, but have already started another. Make an offer below your amount (Maybe 1/2 or $400).

Now you have room to bargin somewhat. If you can’t get the one you want, forget it but be kind. Hire a pro to design your site - I’m sure whoever it is will be watching your site. When he see’s you are no longer intersted and am going forward with you domain - he might offer to sell it to cut his losses.

But then again - I’m not the best at these things, goodluck.com

I went to register.com & checked some of the new extensions.

It’s fun cause you get to see what country they belong to. $50M was paid for TV, which isn’t television but a small island. You can register with them for $50 a year, but the next year you pay MORE, $52.50, which is pretty odd.

I don’t think people make much money cybersquatting anymore.