We are all leaving in a world of technology that not only makes things more
accessible but also creates a daily challenge to compete in the market through a
transformation within and around us. Over a period of time, we have witnessed
the growth of the internet, businesses that are ruling the minds and hearts via
the internet, making huge profits through their brands, whether it is education,
top-brand clothes, organization, and many more.
These brands register their
domain name to attract potential customers through which goodwill and reputation
are created in the market. However, all these top brands face issues that, in
legal terms, we call cybersquatting.
Cybersquatting is a practice by which an organization, individual, or company
acts malafide or in bad faith to buy a domain name that resembles the original
domain name with the intention of selling it to the proprietor of the brand mark
or third party at an exorbitant profit or to harm the reputation. This
Cybersquatting also known as domain-squatting.
Key points to remember about cybersquatting:
- Infringer sells at an exorbitant profit, making huge profits.
- By driving traffic to the website, endangering the company's reputation.
- Use domain-squatting to spread malware and phishing scams.
Types of Cybersquatting:
- Typo squatting:
This is a very common practice of squatting, as the
squatter buys a misspelled domain name, in order to mislead the customers and
this is done by adding/omitting a letter, name, or period causing disruption.
Instances – Consider a well-known brand name Facebook, whose URL is
ww.facebook.com, however, what squatter will intend to do is to add/omit a
letter or period like - www.facebookk.com (Addition of extra letter K) or wwwfacebook.com
(Omission of the period dot).
- Grip site Cybersquatting:
In this case, the squatter intent is to take
personal revenge, show hatred feeling not only towards brand owner but in
majority cases customers tend to lose interest in a particular brand, causing a
huge depletion to brand owner. Instances - Microsoft.com can be portrayed as Microsoftsucks.com. Here are a few examples that can help you to understand.
- Look-alike domain cybersquatting:
This is very common in today's times,
as squatter buy domain them that are look-alike or add special character to it.
Instances – Amazon.com is a popular brand, the infringer will portray as
- Celebrity name cybersquatting:
This is also one of the common practices
by a squatter, as they buy a domain with celebrity's name, create content to
lure the customers to share their details, information about themselves, putting
celebrity's reputation at stake, and later sell the domain name to celebrities
at exorbitant price, making a profit. Many celebrities are victims of cybersquatters like Jennifer Lopez, Madonna. In the past, techies have squatter
on domain names like salmankhan.com, amiabhbacchan.com.
- Homograph Attack:
Homograph attacks are hard to find, as they will be
difficult to identify if we don't know the domain name/brand name. In most
cases, we find the addition of special characters/letters but in this, squatter
makes a small change that is hard to find. Instances – www.apple.com and
www.appIe.com, on clicking both these URLs, you will see that one URL is of real
apple and other is fake. The difference is the replacement of Capital I.
There is no legislation that deals with domain squatters. However, in the
absence of legislation to resolve the domain name, owners can initiate a
proceeding for passing off and infringement under Trademark Law, 1999 against
The following options that are available to the victims of cybersquatting are:
Let's proceed in detail with each resolution policy:
- Trail before District/High Court.
- Arbitration under ICANN's (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and
- UDRP (Uniform Domain Resolution Policy) by ICANN (International Level)
- INDRP (India Domain Resolution Policy) by NIXI (National Level)
- Send cease and desist letters to Cyber squatters.
The court had and still plays a prominent role in resolving
disputes pertaining to Domain names. Even though there is no legislation that
deals with Domain names, however, Judiciary standing strong in providing justice
to the victim.
- Cases: Rediff communication Ltd vs Cyberbooth & Another:
sought a permanent injunction restraining Defendant from using the mark
'www.Radiff.com' which is deceptively similar to plaintiff 'www.Rediff.com'.
The Bombay High Court held that the Defendants adopted the domain name 'Radiff'
with the intention to harm the plaintiff's reputation.
- Yahoo! Inc vs Akash Arora & Another:
First case on Domain law protection
in India. The plaintiff here brought an action against the defendants for using
the domain name Yahooindia.com which is deceptively similar to the plaintiff
Yahoo.com. The Delhi High Court opined that the plaintiff made a prima facie
case and hold defendants accountable for using the deceptively similar name
Yahooindia.com. Hence, restrained the defendants from using the deceptively
similar name of the plaintiff.
INDRP by NIXI (National Internet Exchange of India) – The
disputes involving the registration of the .in domain name is resolved in
accordance with.IN Dispute Resolution Policy and the INDRP Rules. As per INDRP,
if a Complainant considered that a registered domain name conflicts with his
rights, he can file a complaint with the .IN Registry against Registrant on the
- Registrant's domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a name,
trademark, or service mark in which the Complainant has rights,
- Registrant has no right or legitimate interest in respect of the domain
- Registrant's domain name has been registered or is being used in bad
faith. (All 3 factors are considered by the Arbitrator before pronouncing
the Judgement, which must be proved by the Complainant).
After a complaint has been filed by the Complainant,.IN Registry appoint an
Arbitrator out of the list of Arbitrators maintained by it, who conduct a
proceeding in accordance with Arbitration and Conciliation Act 1996, and award
has been passed within 60 days.
- Cases: Bloomberg Finance L.P vs Kanhan Vijay V:
Bloomberg Finance L.P, claims to be the registered proprietor of the service
mark BLOOMBERG in India and in 95 other countries, and has been in business
since 1981, that provide financial news and information to worldwide. The
Respondent claimed a registered partnership firm Bloomberg Computers based in
Nagpur, Maharashtra, dealing in computer hardware and network equipments. The
panel, therefore, held the decision in favor of the Complainant.
- M/S You Tube LLC vs Rohit Kohli:
The Complainant stated that the Respondent copied his domain name Youtube. Before the panel pronounces its
judgment, the parties arrive at a settlement. Hence, the panel made a decision
according to the settlement/compromise between the parties.
- ICANN dispute resolution policy:
The establishment of the ICANN
(Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) in 1998 as a worldwide
internet administration and the introduction of UDRP (Uniform Domain Name
Dispute Resolution Policy) in 1999 for effective and cost-saving international
domain name disputes. This has been one of the most remarkable history happened
in the past for solving international legal problems originating through the
nature of the borderless internet on the one hand and intellectual property
rights of some users on the other.
A trademark is defended by the laws of a country where similar trademark has
been registered. Also, a trademark may have a multiple enrolment's in numerous
countries throughout the world. Since the internet allows us for the access
without any geographical limitation, a sphere name is accessible irrespective of
the geographical position of the consumers.
This will be salutary for the
universal connectivity which will grant sphere name worldwide exclusivity and
also numerous times the public laws might be shy to effectively cover a sphere
The transnational regulation was effected through WIPO and ICANN. India is
one of the 171 countries of the world which is a member of WIPO. Services handed
by WIPO to its member countries include the provision of a forum for the
development and perpetration of intellectual property programs internationally
through covenants and other policy instruments.
Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy – ICANN has espoused the Uniform
Domain Name Disagreement Resolution Policy (UDNDRP or UDRP), the policy for
resolution of sphere name controversies. As per this policy, Plaintiff can bring
an action on the grounds that:
- A domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or
service mark in respect of which the complainant has rights.
- The domain name owner has no rights or legitimate interests in the
- The domain name has been registered and is used in bad faith.
But the complaint is needed to prove all these rudiments if he wants his action
to succeed. However, the sphere name enrolment is cancelled or transferred to
the plaintiff but there are no fiscal remedies handed to him If the vituperative
enrolment is proved.
WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center Decisions on Domain Names:
Intellectual Property Organization is the top sphere name disagreement
resolution service provider under the UDRP and is accredited by ICANN. WIPO
handed good panellist, and ready executive procedures, and overall equity and
credibility. A sphere name case filed with WIPO is typically concluded within 2
months, using online procedures, and a minimum figure is charged. Only
extra-ordinary cases are heard in person.
Indeed due to the absence of cyber-laws, Judiciary and INDRP are
paving a path to deal with sphere squatters cases and make sure justice to be
delivered to its due proprietor. With the development of UDRP, INDRP over a
period of time, the Courts are less burdened and within a reasonable time the
matters are resolved by Disagreement Resolution policy, and only minimal
freights are charged.