Domain Names: Intellectual Property in Cyberspace

by ShelbyW on May 17, 2013

When the Internet first started catching on, many naysayers stated that it was only a temporary fad and that the World Wide Web would never get big. We know now that these assumptions were flat out preposterous. There’s hardly a part of anyone’s life that isn’t somehow connected to the Internet.

Companies and other groups even use Internet domain names as a form of branding, but this thrusts domain names into the realm of intellectual property. This means that it’s important for every individual to know the rules related to domain names and how to protect their own.

Intellectual Property Laws and Domain Names

There are numerous laws related to domain names and the Internet in general. The one that most affects those with domain names, however, is the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act (ACPA). The law is definitely a mouthful, but understanding it is imperative for anyone who registers a domain name.

The law is meant to prevent what is known as “cybersquatting.” This occurs when a person purchases a domain name that is similar to, and in some cases, even exactly, the name of a trademarked product or company. It could also occur if a person purchases a domain name that’s in high demand simply to sit on it. A person can make good money by then selling these domain names to those who are interested, but this is exactly what the cybersquatting law aims to prevent.

Defending a Domain Name

If a company feels as if a person is cybersquatting on a domain that should be rightfully theirs, they can take that individual to court. Sadly, this can lead to a person losing their domain name and having to pay court costs and even punitive damages. An entity who believes that they have a right over a domain name will likely send its owner a letter demanding the transfer of ownership of the domain. This makes it imperative to know a few things about handling these situations.

The most important thing is not to try to attempt to sell the domain directly to the company. This will make it appear as if the domain was bought just so that it could be sold at an inflated price later on. This is all the evidence that’s usually necessary to prove violation of the ACPA. The most important piece of evidence that a person can find to defend themselves with in these situations is something showing that there was some legitimate business purpose in mind when the domain was purchased.

Can Domain Brokers help?

Domain brokers are a valuable tool for many people who own valuable and sought after domain names. They basically broker a deal between a domain owner and a party that wants to purchase the domain. The greatest benefit of having one of these professionals is that they know how to not violate the ACPA. As mentioned earlier, simple mistakes can go towards proving cybersquatting, and domain brokers can avoid these pitfalls.

Additionally, as world-renowned broker Toby Clements has proven, they often get a better price for a domain name than a person could on their own. So not only is an individual avoiding incriminating themselves; they’re also getting a good payout on a domain name that they foresaw as a good business decision. Though these brokers do charge a fee, the amount secured for a domain name makes this minimal payment well worth it in most cases.

The Internet is a world unto itself, and this means that just as many legal issues can exist within it as in the real world. In fact, there are even times when a person may have to seek an attorney just to defend themselves. Luckily for most, hiring a domain broker can reduce the chances that a person will end up in court. Trying to buy or sell domain names on one’s own is a good way to lose money or even break the law, so domain brokerage services are usually an ideal solution.

Shelby Warden is a legal researcher who shares this information for those who are seeking their own piece of cyber real estate. Domain broker Toby Clements goes the extra mile to satisfy his sellers and buyers. Considered one of the best domain brokers in the world, he offers the top inventory in just about any niche.

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