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What Is A Cybersquatting Or Domain Dispute Attorney?

By Eric Misterovich

A cybersquatting or domain dispute attorney is an Internet lawyer that handles cases under the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP) or the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act (ACPA). Additionally, a cybersquatting lawyer may also handle domain name hijacking, which typically consists of the theft of a domain name from the owner’s registrant account. Domain dispute lawyers are well versed in trademark law and can either litigate or defend a case on trademark grounds, such as under the nominative fair use defense, the descriptive term defense, or the reseller defense.

The most common forum for cybersquatting complaints is an arbitration body, which is typically provided by the National Arbitration Forum (NAF) or the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), though other providers, such as the South African Institute for Intellectual Property Law, Nominet, and exist. These arbitration bodies hear cases either under the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy, which is a policy applicable to all .com top level domain name (TLD) registrations, or under country code top level domain (ccTLD) dispute policies.

Federal trademark law also provides for a remedy for cybersquatting. Under the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act, a trademark owner can seek statutory damages of up to $100,000 per domain name for cybersquatting, as well as costs, attorneys’ fees, injunctive relief, and the return of the domain name. If the infringer lives outside of the United States, a plaintiff can also bring an in rem lawsuit under the ACPA at the location of the registry, typically Alexandria, Virginia, to recover the domain name in question.

Finally, several state law causes of action (as well as federal law) exist for domain name hijacking. Some states recognize that a cause of action for conversion applies to domain names. States may also allow breach of contract claims or tortious interference claims for domain name theft. Federal law also recognizes a civil cause of action for unauthorized access to a domain name registrant account under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.

If you seek a domain dispute attorney, contact one of our expert lawyers today.

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