The Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act exists to protect and give a remedy to owners of trademarks whose rights are being violated by a third party. Often referred to as “trademark trolls” these third parties may be liable to the owner of the trademark if with “a bad faith intent to profit from that mark… registers, traffics in or uses a domain name” that creates a likelihood of confusion to the owners’ registered trademarks. Unfortunately these domain holdups are far too common and present real business issues for legitimate trademark owners.
Here’s how the holdup games works and how you can prevent it. Generally speaking you likely just started a new business or launched a new product. You’ve generated some digital press, people are visiting your website, and you’re making money. Your customers are taking note of your success but so are domain pirates. One such “enterprising” individual registers a similar domain name to yours. They may have even copied some of your website’s images or text. You probably don’t even know they exist until a customer tells you they stumbled on a possibly fake site looking for yours. Alternatively the trademark troll emailed you to let you know they coincidentally own a similar domain as yours. Huh… what a coincidence!
So what can you do to prevent or mitigate this behavior? First you need to be smart about your IP. Before you go to market secure any trademarks with an intent-to-use trademark. Second, you need to lock down and register any similar website domains that a trademark troll could profit from. Common misspellings and pluralization are common methods used by the domain pirates. Third, do not respond to the baiting email. Contact your trademark attorney for a strategy discussion.
Your trademark attorney can advise you about what steps should be taken next. While monetary damages and possibly attorney’s fees are available under the ACPA you’re more likely to receive a court order canceling the offending parties domain registration. Contact Mighty Marks for a free consultation