Cybersquatting is purchase of a domain name in bad faith. Usually this is done with intention of reselling that domain name back to legal copyright holder, although sometimes there are other reasons. This is considered a violation of trademark laws.
An example of cybersquatting would be if someone purchased domain name "mcdonalds.ws" and then proceeded to attempt to sell it back to McDonalds. It would also be considered a violation of law if purchaser put up a web site describing how bad McDonald's food was or commenting on service.
Cybersquatting was made illegal by passage of a federal law in 1999 known as Anti-Cybersquatting Consumer Protection Act. The law became necessary because numerous large companies were forced to pay large sums to buy their domain names from third parties. These companies included such notables as Panasonic, Fry's Electronics, Hertz and Avon.
How do you know if a company is a victim of cybersquatting? Type in a name that has been trademarked preceded by "www" and following by ".com", ".net" or ".org". If you get a valid web site which looks like it is related in some way to domain name, then there is no cybersquatting in effect (although this could be a simple trademark violation). However, if you get one of following results, then this could be a cybersquatter.
- Can't find server
- under construction
- page with no relationship to domain name
Of course there could be a reasonable explanation for each of these results, so they do not always mean there is cybersquatting occurring. It's a good idea to contact domain name owner before taking any legal action to find out what's going on.
How do you prove someone is cybersquatting?