Ever since domain names started to become recognised as valuable assets, people have been registering names which they consider will make them money, such as those in the name of celebrity, or famous businesses, or products. Your web hosting partner should make it clear to you as a business or individual how inadvisable this can be, especially when so many individuals have been taken to court for falsely representing themselves as famous people or companies, using a domain name.
A UDRP or Uniform Domain-Name Dispute-Resolution Policy proceeding will go ahead where a business or individual has knowingly registered a domain name which copies that of another business or person, and they have no real right to do so, or are intending to use that domain name in a negative or harmful manner. So although you may be innocently registering your domain name for your business for positive reasons, beware of making it sound too much like that of a famous person or celebrity, or a famous business or product, because you could end up in serious hot water from a legal point of view.
Your new domain name doesn’t even have to be copying that of someone or something famous for it to cause your problems with the law, as someone in ordinary public life who feels you are unjustly using their name or business identity can accuse you of cybersquatting and sue you as a result.
This gets worse if you register the domain name through your webhosting plan and then try to sell it on, or even back to the person or business concerned, for a nice little profit. You are breaking internet regulations and this supposedly bright idea, which is regarded as similar in actual fact to extortion or even blackmail, could end up costing you a lot of money.
If you are on the other end of this type of squatting and find that someone else has deliberately registered a domain name which they then try to sell you for your business, you are within your rights to seek legal advice.
This can get worse if the person or business doing the cybersquatting is posting unpleasant reviews and comments to try and force your hand and make you buy up the domain name before any further damage can be done. Ask your webhosting provider for tech support and guidance on how to proceed with this and for guidance on arbitration, since this could be an issue which could in theory be sorted out relatively simply, for example by buying the name as soon as it comes up for renewal, or instructing your webhosting company to do so on your behalf.
If you do register a domain name unwittingly like that of another person or business, that is a different matter, but you are still in awkward territory from a legal point of view. Your webhosting partner should also be able to advise whether the domain name you have in mind is going to step on anyone’s toes.
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