by mihgasper

Cybersquatting is a situation in which somebody registers a domain with sole purpose to prevent somebody else getting and using it. In essence it is kind of fraud.

The term cybersquatting is often used with piracy, copyright infringement and other web related phrases, but apart from clear rightful and malicious acts we can also find wide gray area of not so clear situations where each of involved sides can claim its own rights.

In such cases complicated a litigation with unpredictable results may occur. Unfortunately in majority of them the party with more power and money wins, what eventually leads to undesirable precedents with long term consequences in probably the most democratic media in human history - the internet.

*** all used images can be found on and are in public domain ***

What is cyber squatting?

Cybersquatting is squatting in cyberspace. It is interesting subject in modern web oriented world, where more and more business is done through the internet and in some areas we can already say somebody without web site simply does not exist.

This kind of activity is also know under different, but related names, and is used as description of activity of domain(s) registration with the intention to prevent others to register their business at the same address. The idea is to resell the right for the use of name to somebody else with huge profit. While initial price is about ten dollars, it can raise up to hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Domain INSURANCE.COM, for instance was sold in 2010 for unbelievable 35,6 million dollars!

And we are talking about domain name only, without any right to content on the side...

Similar to scalping, this is of course illegal business in general, but, as we already said, with a lot of grey areas. We'll explore some common examples and try to learn from mistakes of others to have a better chance making our owns. As already stated, there is no simple black and white comparison, because many cases can be interpreted with different points of view and the results of legal procedures are pretty unpredictable. Yes, dealing with a cyber squatter or being one can be expensive too. So it is best to think twice before you act.


Have you heard about reverse domain hijacking?

Here the trademark holder (in most cases loaded with money) tries to get a valuable name with the included string of characters which guarantees a lot of visitors, from legal owner by false accusation of cyber squatting.

Although this is not true, legal owner is still obligated to proof his rights in court.

Stronger is almost always right
Stronger is almost always right

This kind of procedure involves high trial costs which may surpass his financial abilities, so many owners rather withdraw from their legal right simply on the base of raw power.

Cybersquatting explained

What happened to my friend

He owned a site for five or six years and then forgot to re-register it. He didn't notice a warning in e-mail and when he tried to correct mistake, somebody else already took it for himself. Not because he needed it, but because he planned to resell it back to original owner for ten times higher price.

Have you ever been a victim of some kind of domain squatting?

My friend didn't accept the deal and nobody is happy at the moment. The address is occupied, it has no content, my friend is without page and squatter without earnings. There are millions of similar situations all over the world in this very moment.

Better safe than sorry?
Domain Name Arbitration: A Practical Guide to Asserting and Defending Claims of Cybersquatting Un...

The Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP) was implemented by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) in 1999. Between 2000 when the first ...

View on Amazon

Let's look at few examples

The presented cases below are actually kind of subdivisions of cyyber squatting, but they are so popular, each one is called differently.

1. Typosquatting is based on misspellings:


In these cases attacker use common misspellings with bad intention to send visitor in search for real site to his which is written with a typo. This is called trafficking and is still popular. Although search engines are becoming more and more powerful at recognizing this kind of scam, there are still hundreds of new sites popping up every minute, so it is virtually impossible to catch all bad guys before they already make damage.


2. Registering the same string of characters with different extension:

KNOWN-COMPANYdotCOM (real company address)
KNOWN-COMPANYdotNET (wrong adress)

This is one very simple case, where we can also learn about the importance of dot COM extension. Many people take it for granted and presume the company they are searching for, has a site with their name simply following by com. If for some reason they decided to go with something else, they may become easy target. In this situation it is best to have all popular extension registered.

3. Registering real domain because the owner of the company forgot to do it.

KNOWN-COMPANYdotCOM (address expired few days ago)
KNOWN-COMPANYdotCOM (address in squatter hands just few days after)

This can be a tough case in the court. Rules are simple. If the domain is free, it is available to everybody. Or at least in theory. The problem occurs when we are dealing with known brands (which can be locally or world wide protected) or some public services or ... Another gray area!

As I already said - best is to think before the damage is done and be prepared.

What would you do?

You noticed a very popular name (already owned by known company) is free for registration
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Believe it or not, even cybersquatters have their own ethics!

You'll be surprised by imagination of bad guys who specialized in this kind of business. They developed all sorts of tools to find possibilities in the big world of the internet with millions of freshly registered addresses on daily basis. Many of them will become interesting for their purposes for some, sometimes extremely unexpected reason, and some of them will become targets.

And we all know sitting ducks make the easiest targets, don't we? Why don't take a look at the most obvious examples and learn a thing or two?

What to do in case of cybersquatting?

If you bump into this kind of problem, it is best to be prepared in advance. Huge public support can be in big favor of yours, so building following on social networks (Google plus, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter etc.) can be very handy for you.

One possible action can be of course contacting the person, who is giving you hard times, explain him the situation and demand your rights. Try to find a solution, maybe even for the price of some kind of financial compensation (of course only you can estimate how much is the name really worth for you) and in some cases this can work well, because your opponent can sit on hundreds of names which all cost him just for having the rights and heavy expenses can definitely be one of his weak points.

Another obvious option is common lawsuit. This can cost you money (same is true with your enemy) but more important factor can be time. Seeking justice in court can be really time consuming and in this case time is not on your side.

There is still one more possibility and this is arbitration at ICANN which is a combination by both before mentioned situations. It is not as costly and time consuming as classic court case but it is not cheap either.

Updated: 05/19/2016, mihgasper
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Have you ever been a victim of cybersquatter?

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mihgasper on 10/22/2023

Typosquatting is done by purpose, spell checkers have nothing to do with that. The consequences or cybersquatting are by default done in real and cyber world.

DerdriuMarriner on 10/09/2023

Cyberspace-related catastrophes, conundrums and crises somewhat amaze me when I consider how many checks and tests preceded the computerized, cyber-space world.

The U.S. Department of Defense had computers decades before the business, the private-citizen, the private-sector and the public-sector world had them.

Is it possible that nobody anticipated cybersquatting problems or that nobody knew what to do with such a problem?

DerdriuMarriner on 09/29/2023

The first case, Typosquatting, somewhat mystifies me.

Spellcheckers seem so abundant; they even show up on Wizzley ;-D!

Would submitting sites to spellchecking be easy or onerous, expensive or reasonable?

DerdriuMarriner on 09/13/2023

The next-to-last paragraph about common lawsuits intrigues me.

What is the court through which one would plan such a lawsuit? Would the case be carried out totally in a physical location or would there be all or some virtual sequences?

mihgasper on 06/23/2023

Paper trail sounds simple solution until you start using it. But the main problem is not in finding the right person and finding who was the first registering. Rules about that subject are, in my opinion, out-dated and people just try to use the wholes in the system.

DerdriuMarriner on 06/17/2023

The paragraph What happened to my friend under the second subheading Have you heard about reverse domain hijacking? is unsettling.

Was your friend able to retrieve all his content?

Would it be possible for someone to hijack a site and hold the content in essence for ransom?

DerdriuMarriner on 12/21/2022

It's surprising how complicated rectifying cyberquatting can be!

Wouldn't it seem logical that the paper trail back to the first person registering the site name would prevail over the cyberquatter subsequently taking it? Or would cybersquatters have some way of altering information so that their dates look earlier?

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