Do you want to know if you’re a victim of domain squatting? And how to fight it?
There is a fine line between buying and selling domains legally, and when it’s done with ill intent.
In this guide, we’ll tell you how to be sure it’s domain squatting and the measures you can take against it.
What is Domain Squatting?
Domain squatting is when someone registers or transfers a domain name with the internet to block someone else from registering it for their own business, or to profit from reselling it or running ads.
Here’s the definition by the Anti-cybersquatting Consumer Protection Act – Domain squatting (also known as “cybersquatting”) is registering, trafficking in, or using an Internet domain name with a bad faith intent to profit from the goodwill of a trademark belonging to someone else.
This includes registering a domain name related to a specific business or organization’s name with the intent to prevent them from getting it. It also includes registering trademarked names, terms, slogans and derivations thereof.
If someone has stolen a domain you own by hacking your account or through other illegal means, then head over to this guide: How to Recover a Stolen Domain and Prevent Domain Hijacking.
When we say domain squatting, we mean when someone registers an available domain in bad faith to do the following:
- Block someone else from getting the domain
- Impede a competitor
- Profit from displaying ads of a direct competitor of the domain owner
- Misusing trademarks to make a profit
So it all boils down to intent. If someone happens to register a domain name that you had your eye on and they legitimately had no idea that you wanted the domain as well, it doesn’t constitute domain squatting.
Let’s go a bit further into this side of things and understand what domaining is.
What is Domaining?
Domaining is the act of buying and selling domains with potential value legally with the intention of making a profit.
You can buy/sell, lease or put it up for auction to get the most out of your deal.
It takes time and money to make a profit in this business, but sometimes you can make hundreds, thousands, and even millions from just one deal.
See our guide: Domain Flipping: How to Start and Make a Profit
Now that you know the difference between perfectly acceptable domain flipping and ill-intended domain squatting, let’s see how you can stop and prevent it.
How to Stop Domain Squatters
If a domain squatter has taken over your domain name, you could try to negotiate a deal with them.
Most of the time, they just want to make a quick buck and it may seem easier to pay them off than go through the legal route.
You could also choose a new domain name. But keep in mind, you may have to revise your marketing, advertising, and branding to suit the new domain.
If you want to choose a different domain name, our domain name generator will be helpful. It’s free to use and you can come up with tons of ideas to get a new domain name.
If the squatter is being unreasonable, you can consider the legal path. Here’s what you’ll need to do:
- If you have a trademark for your business or brand name and the domain matches that, you can ask your lawyer to issue a formal cease and desist letter providing notice to the domain owner. It will need to mention that there is a trademark infringement and you can demand that they cease to use of your mark and transfer the domain to you.
- You need to file a dispute with your domain registrar and with ICANN (Internet Corporation of Assigned Names and Numbers) as soon as possible. Follow our guide on what you need to do for this: How to Get Back Your Expired Domain Name
- If these disputes fail, you can file a federal lawsuit for violation of the Anti-Cybersquatting Consumer Protection Act (“ACPA”). This step will vary depending on the laws in your country.
When you file a dispute with ICANN, it typically takes less time, you do not need a lawyer, and it’s less expensive. ICANN will help you recover the domain but they cannot award any financial compensation for damages.
We suggest filing a court case only if all else fails or if you are seeking compensation as well.
How to Prevent Domain Squatters
If you want to prevent domain squatters from attacking your business and brand, here are our suggestions:
- Always choose a domain name that matches your brand name. For instance, our brand is Nameboy and our domain is nameboy.com.
It becomes easier to prove that the domain rightfully belongs to you and you can secure a trademark for it. See our guide: Should You Trademark Your Domain Name? (Beginner’s Guide)
- In the early stages of your business, it’s best to buy up a selection of domain names that are similar to yours or can be easily confused with yours. You can also buy up different domain extensions like .com, .net, and .biz.
When you search for your domain name on Nameboy, you can view a whole page of extensions to see which ones make sense to buy.
You can then set up a redirect on these domains. When people accidentally visit these domains, they’ll be automatically redirected to your main website.
- Enable auto-renewal on your domains.
It’s the best way to prevent domains from accidentally expiring and going back on the market for sale.
- Ensure that your contact and payment information is always up to date with your domain registrar so that you don’t miss important renewal notifications.
- Consider purchasing domain protection. With this, your domain registrar will keep the domain registered in your name for up to a year after its expiration date.
- If you have multiple domains in your portfolio, it’s best to hire a domain management service that will keep track of domain expirations, renewals, cancellations, and more.
- Always register your domain name with a reliable and trustworthy domain registrar like Bluehost and Domain.com.
With that, we’re confident you know how to stop and present domain squatting. We hope you found this guide helpful.
Next, you’ll also want to read:
- 13 Ways We Use to Secure a Domain Name
- Can You Buy a Domain Name Forever?
- What Is Private Domain Registration? (Pros & Cons Explained)
These guides will help you better secure your domain from squatters, hackers, and spammers.