Domainers and Cybersquatters: What do they mean to your company?
By Erin Aldridge
In the Internet marketing industry, buying Internet real estate (domains) is part of the job. And the competition can be just as fierce as home and business real estate.
Many people have come across a domain that is similar to theirs and wonder why someone was able to purchase something so close to their company name, URL or trademark. Here’s some insight for you.
In the Internet industry there are a primarily two terms for people who buy domains that are not about their business: cybersquatters and domainers.
A cybersquatter registers sites, traffics domains or uses a domain name with bad faith intent to profit from the trademarked name or phrase belonging to someone else. According to the AntiCybersquatting Consumer Protection Act, using a domain name with bad faith intent this illegal.
A domainer is a person who profits from the buying and dealing of Internet domain names. Domainers say they are different from cybersquatters because they avoid trademarked names, controversial domain names and typosquatting.
In general both of these groups of people are able to make money off web sites they have bought or are trading that do not have anything to do with their specific business.
There has long been a debate about whether one of these is different from the other. Jay Westerdal of DomainTools.com insists that they are different, whereas most of his commenters contest that cybersquatters and domainers are one and the same.
There are a couple ways to protect a business from domainers and cybersquatters. First, whenever possible, trademark or register the name. People are constantly buying domains; if a name is trademarked, the business interests on the Internet may be protected by the AntiCybersquatting Consumer Protection Act.
Another way to protect domain integrity is to buy the domains similar to it. This way you own the “real estate” and can ensure that the contents of the similar domain are in alignment with the interests of the company. In addition, as an owner of the domain you can choose to make these domains marketing sites, redirect them to the main site or publish blogs on them. All of these can help increase the value of the main site and increase brand awareness.
So what do you think? Are they one and the same? Do domainers pose a threat to you and your online real estate?