How Startups Can Sock It To Cybersquatters

Cybersquatters. They drive me absolutely crazy, and I’m not alone. Before I go-into ways in which startups can get their names back from squatters I wanted to clearly define what a Cybersquatter is.

First things first. There’s a big difference between “Domain Investors” and “Cybersquatters” – confusion between these two groups can lead you down the wrong path so it’s important to understand.

Cybersquatters buy existing trademarks and typos of existing trademarks in an effort to extort money from the company that has done all the work. Sounds sleazy? It is.

Domain Investors do not buy trademarks or typos. Instead they buy generic words that are not purchased with the intent of extorting other businesses, but are instead just raw land available, the land is just made of 1’s and 0’s.

So what can a startup do if a cybersquatter is squatting on their domain name?

What most startups don’t realize is that there is a completely legal way to reclaim your name. It’s called a UDRP and you can read more about it here. The way a UDRP works is relatively simple, if a cybersquatter is indeed squatting on your name, you can file a legal proceeding to get the name from them (forcibly) for typically under $5,000.

Here’s one thing to be very careful of. Remember, just like anyone can buy raw land in every single state in the US, domain investors can buy vacant domains that are available for anyone to own. If you slap a domain investor that has legitimately purchased the domain with a UDRP you could get hit with a RDNH (Reverse Domain Name Hijacking). As the name sounds you would actually be trying to hijack a domain from a legitimate owner and there are repercussions that come along with this action.

The key here is differentiating between a Cybersquatter and a Domain Investor. Domain Investors generally want to help startups, I know many who give startups very preferential pricing, flexible lease deals, and much more to help someone get the name they want.  Cybersquatters on the other hand try to find what brand startups are going for and then buy a bunch of domains that match that name or are typos of it specifically to sell for as much as possible.

If you find that a Cybersquatter is going after your brand, hire a lawyer that specializes in domain names and go get them! Just remember that you will need to have a trademark and a good case against them, you can read the full list of UDRP requirements here. The more people that go after Cybersquatters the more these scum will think twice about squatting on your brand.

Just remember, if you want a generic .COM that has been registered since the 90’s you can’t UDRP, it’s a generic term and available to anyone just like the raw land people can buy probably five minutes from your house. Don’t try to steal domains from investors or you could find yourself being hit with a RDNH, which is the last thing you want.


{ 9 comments… add one }

  • September 25, 2014, 9:01 pm

    This one is a very good article. It gets my 100% agreement endorsement.

  • Raj Domains September 26, 2014, 3:33 am

    thnx for the info…. i didnt know all that before

  • John September 26, 2014, 6:11 am

    Most companies do it backwards
    They need to pick a name and research if the domains are available
    If not and they like them go and buy them
    Then file for a trademark
    They often pick a name, file for a trademark & then see that that name is owned by someone else
    They are plenty of .coms and extensions available eith by way of hand reg or on the secondary market

  • John September 26, 2014, 6:16 am

    And there a really needs to be a system in place that takes away names and penalizes those that buy established company names/brands
    On the flipside, if someone owns a name before a trademark or company exists on that name then a udrp shouldn’t even be an option. Either buy the domain or pick another name.

  • Joe September 26, 2014, 10:42 am

    Very interesting post the question being single phrase that question to three other questions?

    The UDRP and RDNH who defend companies, freelance, as well as private persons?
    Only Brand TLD domain names, Cybersquatterss?
    Only TLD domain names, Cybersquatters.?
    Only TM TLD domain names, Cybersquatters?

    The three Cybersquatters this happens to be my person by another company registers domain names ICANN.
    RDNH help me? this question may be silly to you but is that all lawyers in USA with which to make this form of abduction, only one replied sending me another of his colleagues in this issue laws.
    The remaining lawyers never respond.

  • bluebeak October 17, 2014, 6:29 am

    > Domain Investors generally want to help startups.

    The ones I encountered just wanted to kick my shins. Guess I wasn’t sucking up to them enough though.

    • Morgan October 17, 2014, 7:22 pm

      @bluebeak – it all depends on who you’re talking to, there are definitely those out there who don’t want to help and instead want to squeeze every penny out of you.

  • Isham August 10, 2015, 3:33 pm

    No real difference. “Domain Investors” as you call them, are just a cancer; all they do is get in the way of the people ACTUALLY conducting business. I bet they even fancy themselves as business people, yet provide no service, have no talent to sell, and add no value to society or to the economy. They literally serve ZERO function to society.

    “Domain Investors” are pieces of s–t. No wait, at lease excrement serves a purpose as a fertilizer. The only time a “Domain Investor” will achieve that height of utility is when they die and become fertilizer themselves.

    • Mike December 30, 2020, 11:23 am

      Totally agree. ICANN needs to raise domain prices to a level where they are still affordable but which makes “Domain Investing” unprofitable. I’m guessing in the $50-$100/year range. I wonder if anyone has dome a study on this.


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