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Cybersquatting is Not Domaining

January 10th, 2009
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CADNA (The Coalition Against Domain Name Abuse) is a non-profit group dedicated to eliminating domain name abuses across the internet. CADNA are working to protect the trademark rights and interests of corporations and individuals. Specifically, they aim to punish cybersquatting (the registration and use of a domain name with bad faith intent to profit from the goodwill of a trademark belonging to another party). 

comm16Challenging and eliminating cybersquatting (trademark infringement) is a worthy goal and one that is supported by legitimate domainers. Honest domain investors understand the damage created by cybersquatting, and they avoid dealing in domain names that present clear infringement issues. Quite unfortunately, the general public have been misinformed as to what constitutes true cybersquatting, and wrongly assume it applies to registering domain names for resale, development, or other monetization techniques. Of course, these activities constitute a well-established, legal, and advisable business model that was a natural outgrowth of the successful domain name industry.

Internet domain names are virtual real estate. And like real estate, a developer/owner may choose to pursue any number of options for utilizing an internet property. As long as the domain name in question is not infringing on an existing trademark, then “cybersquatting” doesn’t enter the picture.

The ICA (Internet Commerce Association) is an organization that came into existence to help represent the domain name industry fairly, and to help protect the rights of domain name registrants and domain developers. The concern for legitimate domainers is that CADNA, or similar entities, will over-reach their purview and catalyze government action that limits or damages the rights of legitimate domain registrants. This cannot be allowed to happen as it would be as ethically unacceptable as cybersquatting. An equally damaging wrong commited in the opposite direction.

It is extremely unfortunate that blatant cybersquatters tried to exploit and steal the profits of companies. This behavior was so egregious, widespread, and publicly condemned that the cloud of contempt extended well beyond the cybersquatters to tarnish even honest domain developers and entrepreneurs.

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Today, domaining is gaining respect and interest from the larger business community. There is much to overcome since so much misinformation and misguided contempt were disseminated by the general media (who were often too complacent to collect and report factual information). The media love to castigate, and cybersquatters fueled the fire with gasoline.

Domainers are working to maintain clean portfolios and to conduct honest, ethical business. One doesn’t have to steal and cheat to be successful in the domain investment community. But, as in any and every business sector, you always have some rotten eggs.  Key Point: Cybersquatting … is not domaining.

I encourage general readers, and in particular domainers, to speak out against cybersquatting, and to discourage those new in our industry from registering a known company’s domain name. Thankfully, the division between legitimate domaining vs. cybersquatting is becoming more clear everyday. It’s a shame the battle was so long and such an uphill climb. It’s not over. But we’re nearing the top … where we belong.

Cybersquatting, Internet Domains , ,