Cybersquatters Prevai

25 August 1999
Reversing an earlier decision, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals handed down a ruling Monday that bodes well for cybersquatters and not so well for corporations trying to protect registered trademarks.

Cybersquatters make big money by registering domain names in the hopes they can be sold to others at a steep profit. Mondy's ruling stems from a suit filed by Avery Dennison Corp., which was trying to force a Canadian businessman to relinquish rights to "" and "" The court ruled that the names aren't famous enough to be used exclusively by the company. Thus, if the company wants the names it'll have to buy them.

A similar ruling was handed down in April involving Brookfield Communications, a movie industry vendor, which sued video rental chain West Coast Entertainment for infringing on its trademarked software database by registering In this case the court ruled in favor of Brookfield, saying that Brookfield was entitled to trademark protection online because it used the name in commerce first.

Cybersquatting has proven to be a lucrative business. The latest cybersquatter in the news is Joseph Culligan, a Miami private detective and would-be domain name broker, who is offering to sell three domains to Utah Republican Senator Orin Hatch, who is preparing to campaign for president. Culligan's asking for $45,000 for "," "" and ""--a reference to Hatch's wife. Culligan also owns such domains as, "" and "," which are for sale at his website at

Hatch, a cosponsor of the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act, likely won't want to negotiate with Culligan for the Hatch domains. Culligan purchased the domains to challenge Hatch, who last month denounced cybersquatting as "fraud, deception and the bad-faith trading on the goodwill of others."