The Perils of Cybersquatting and What You Can Do About It

Greta Norkute-Simanauskiene 64 Views

You may have been reading a lot about cybersquatting in the news recently. And that is because you are. 

Cybersquatting has been on the rise in the first quarter of 2024. Some of the most recent cybersquatting cases prove there are winners and losers, but the one thing they have in common is how easy it is to cybersquat with a domain.

In the winners’ corner, design tools company Canva won a single cybersquatting case against 174 domain names. The company filed the dispute with WIPO in July 2023 and WIPO published its decision in favor of Canva in February 2024. 

In the losers’ corner, Mermet S.A.S., part of the Hunter Douglas company, lost two cybersquatting claims. The windows covering company filed disputes against mermet.com and mermet.eu, both owned by Didier Mermet. In this decision, the panelist said the domain owner, Didier Mermet, has rights or legitimate interests in the domain, and he didn’t register it in bad faith. 

A high-profile cybersquatting with Google involved a cyber squatter who registered the domain name “googledotcom.com. 

Cybersquatting is something that domain managers probably don’t think about since they are typically managing dozens, if not hundreds, of domains. When you are in the trenches of domain renewals and ensuring that all your domains are covered, cybersquatting might not be at the top of your to-do list. 

So what do you do when a company or person is cybersquatting on the domain name that’s your trademarked business name? Short of litigation under the Anti-Cybersquatting Consumer Protection Act (ACPA) or using an international arbitration system from ICANN, there is one crucial thing you can do: create a domain strategy around your brand. Yes, this includes registering and trademarking your domain (let’s assume you have already trademarked your brand name). 

Use a trusted domain registrar (like Okens) to secure the domain names relevant to your brand or business. Consider registering your domains for more extended periods than the standard year. If you don’t want to manage this, no worries; Okens does auto-renew and can manage all your domain renewals and just renew for you.  

It’s also a good idea to consider registering any trademarks related to the domain to establish legal rights for your brand.

You can also consider registering common misspellings of your domain. Of course, registering all of them isn’t cost-effective, but if you have a strong domain strategy, you can purchase the most common misspellings in your domain before anyone else does. 

This may sound easy, but think about how to engage employees. You can train employees who manage your domains and create a domain management playbook. However, training internal people to manage your domains can be challenging if they don’t have a comprehensive knowledge of the domain industry. This is precisely why so many companies trust Okens. We see many brands reach out to us before their brand launches to lock down the right strategy to secure their digital brand. We can prepare a domain gap analysis that will let you and your team create the best domain management playbook.

As always, be smart about your domain. It’s the most critical digital asset at the heart of your brand. 

If you aren’t sure where to start, give me a call or send an email, and I will show you the Okens Gap analysis tool that will help you defend your digital territory and avoid cybersquatting.

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Greta Simanauskiene is the global Account Manager for Okens Domains. She speaks on the importance of managing domains strategically. She can assess and encapsulate the challenges facing operators and affiliates to help them strategically manage their domains to protect their brands. She has extensive experience with inside and outside sales, business development, and marketing. Most recently, she penned an article on her views from igaming Europe for OI. Greta can speak on domain strategy, brand protection, domain registration, domain privacy, industry insight, the igaming market, and domain asset management.

Photo by Matilda Wormwood

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