The etymology of the term ‘cybersquatting’ is simple enough to understand the purpose of its usage in internet or cyber laws. The word squatting refers to an unlawful act of illegitimately occupying a property or an entity, which is actually owned by someone else, with or without his/her consent or knowledge, having an ill-intent and lack of faith.
The Anti-Cybersqatting Consumer Protection Act pertains to the laws applicable for the illegal squatting in the Cyber world or the internet. In the world wide web of the internet a cyber squatter can illegitimately register, traffic in and offer to sell or use a domain name that belongs to some genuine owner, in order to get wrongful gains. This act covers the possibility of copying a confusingly similar or identical trademark, or dilutive trademark that was previously famous when the domain-name was registered.
The Anti-CyberSquatting Consumer Protection Act is a part of the Internet Laws and Statutes, and is mentioned under the United States Code titled 15 and the section 1125(d) that pertains to ‘false description’, ‘false designations of origin’ and ‘dilution forbidden’. Under this section of law, Cyber Piracy Prevention is the primary objective and motto that is taken in to utmost consideration.
According to the Anti-CyberSquatting Consumer Protection Act and the associated sections, subsections, and clauses, any person would be liable in a civil action by the original or true owner of a domain name or trademark that is protected under this act and its relevant section. The Anti-CyberSquatting Consumer Protection Act was brought in to effect on 29th November’ 1999.
The Anti-CyberSquatting Consumer Protection Act is an amendment to an existing Act known as ‘Lanham or Trademark Act’ with the addition of a new subsection 43(d). The trademark and domain name owners are provided with civil remedies against cyber squatting when covered under this act.
The phenomenon called Cyber-Squatting results in a variety of adverse situations, like creating confusion in the mindset of consumers, with regards to the true or genuine owner and sponsorship, of products and services promoted on electronic media. Cyber Squatting may result in the impairment of e-commerce or Electronic Commerce which is of vital importance to the economies of many developed nations.
The ACPA has attracted the attention of its critics and they have been complaining about the inadequacy of a global use of this act, and object the restrictions it offers to ‘freedom of speech’. The Federal Trademark Dilution Act was extended substantially to make it ‘less-than-ideal’ fit, for the protection of trademark and domain name owners.
It was observed that the true trademark owner was offered a huge price to purchase his/her domain name that was squatted. This activity or trading domains was considerably restricted by the introduction of ACPA. Instead of entering into litigation in the Federal Court under ACPA, the trademark or domain name owners can opt to pursue an administrative proceeding under ICANN’s ‘Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP)’.
The civil remedies those are available for the domain-name and trademark owners under the Anti Cyber-Squatting Consumer Porotection Act range from cancellation, forfeiture to the transfer of the domain name to the true owner of mark. In certain cases damages sustained by plaintiff, a cost of the action and defendant profits are recovered, and in exceptionally rare cases reasonable attorney fees are recovered from the convict.