Have you ever Been Cybersquatted?

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When I went to register Lockergnome years ago using GoDaddy, I was worried someone else would get it. There are people out there who purchase domain names that they feel will be a hot commodity, and then sit on them… or sell them for high amounts of money. This is called Cybersquatting. What is Cybersquatting, you ask? Cybersquatting is registering, trafficking in, or using a domain name with bad faith intent to profit from the goodwill of a trademark belonging to someone else. The cybersquatter then offers to sell the domain to the person or company who owns a trademark contained within the name at an inflated price.

The term is derived from “squatting,” which is the act of occupying an abandoned or unoccupied space or building that the squatter does not own, rent or otherwise have permission to use. Cybersquatting however, is a bit different in that the domain names that are being “squatted” are (sometimes but not always) being paid for through the registration process by the Cybersquatters. Cybersquatters usually ask for prices far greater than that at which they purchased it. Some cybersquatters put up derogatory remarks about the person or company the domain is meant to represent in an effort to encourage the subject to buy the domain from them. Others post paid links via Google, Yahoo, Ask.com and other paid advertising networks to the actual site that the user likely wanted, thus monetizing their squatting. As with many controversial issues, some argue that the dividing line of cybersquatting is difficult to draw, or that the practice is consistent with a capitalistic and free market ethos.

When was the last time you tried to look up a website to see if it’s available? Some people swear that if you do these lookups using a service like GoDaddy, a Cybersquatter will zap up the domain you want. Why don’t you just open a browser, and type in the URL of the site you’re thinking of buying? If you go to a website, you know it’s already taken. If it takes you nowhere… you know it should be available for you to buy!

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