One of the most nefarious – and often unjust – means of earning money online might soon be coming to an end, if the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has its way with curbing cyber-squatting.
Cyber-squatting is the practice of registering a domain name, such as www.appleipod.com, by a person who has no connection with the trademark product of the same name. The cyber-squatter then sells the domain to the trademark-holding company – in this case, Apple – for a premium, which often goes into thousands of dollars.
This practice is currently possible due to the openness of the Internet, where anybody can register any domain name without showing any due affiliation to trademarks. Cyber-squatting is seen as a profitable industry, although it has lost some landmark cases recently, such as with Jay Leno and Rediff.
ICANN is now reportedly considering building a database, called IP Clearinghouse, of registered trademark holders to curb such questionable domain registrations.
As the Associated Press points out, this is not to say that a layperson would not be able to create a Web site at www.apple.farm. But IP Clearinghouse would create sufficient hurdles to protect the interests of a copyright holder like Apple, till the applicant for the new domain proves his own legitimate use.
The move is a timely response by ICANN, as it works to expand the number of Internet domain suffixes from the current big trio of .com, .org and .net.
The recommendations for an IP Clearinghouse come from a committee largely made up of corporations and intellectual-property lawyers. ICANN might not decide on the idea until December, AP says.
Source: Associated Press