Photo by Jesse Michael Nix
Domain name recovery is a vital element of copyright protection for almost all businesses. Whether you are aware of it or not, if you don’t have ongoing efforts to protect your brand online, the odds are that “typosquatters” are unscrupulously registering common variants of your domain to capture your traffic and redirect it for their own purposes. Unfortunately, identifying an unauthorized third party registrant is far from enough to recover the domain variant. Initiating and resolving these domain name disputes in favor of the rightful copyright owner requires legal expertise from a team of attorneys with experience and a track record of success in recovering domains from these thieves.
The more important web searches become for driving business, the more relevant recovering alternate domain names becomes. Of course, some businesses remain disinterested in capturing web search traffic, or see it as such a small portion of their total business that it is not worth the legal expense. That is certainly an avenue to consider, but the percentage of companies for which such a strategy is viable will continue to shrink quickly for the foreseeable future. The logic for domain name recover is obvious but worth making explicit. First, people simple make typos when entering URLs. If they mistakenly type nationlageograpich.org instead of nationalgeographic.com, their intent is still clearly to access the web page for that company. But astute typosquatters may recognize that the mistaken URL has not been registered, grab it for a very low price, and use their good fortune to drive PPC and ad revenue to a completely unrelated venture. Similarly, people often are unsure about the ending to a company’s web address – .com, .org, or .net. The same unauthorized registration process is possible and just as potentially damaging.
In some instances, the attorney can quickly negotiate a reasonable deal with the registrant, particularly if he or she is innocent or confused as opposed to acting in bad faith. On the other hand, if a domain name dispute arises either because the registrant has a legitimate and competing business interest or because of deliberate cybersquatting, the process and be more time consuming and may require legal proceeding or the use of federal domain name dispute resolution services. Further complications arise with international brands, a situation in which legal counsel must either be familiar with patent and domain name recovery procedures in multiple countries, or in which the company may need the services of multiple lawyers.
In any case, the most important thing is to quickly asses the costs of the infringement compared to the anticipated costs of domain name recovery based on attorney estimates, and then treat the decision like any other business investment relating to patent and brand protection.