With the recent birth of Prince George, the future King of England, domain name registration and cybersquatting considerations have been thrust into the media. The domain name, GeorgeAlexanderLouis.com was registered by a Portuguese domain name broker according to reports online. The domain name registrant was able to register the domain name prior to Prince William and Kate Middleton, who named their son George Alexander Louis. As a result, many are questioning whether or not this is a legal domain name reigstration or unlawful cybersquatting.
This isn't the first time that an individual opportunistically registered a domain name that corresponds to a baby name. It was oftentimes done to the parents of celebrities or other high profile individuals, as could recently be seen with the registration of Blue Ivy Carter following the birth of a child to Jay Z and Beyonce. The common theme in all of these situations is that the celebrity, other individual, or company did not think of buying the domain name prior to making an official announcement. Once the domain is registered, they are left to wonder 'What now?'
For the avoidance of doubt, domain name registrations are on a first come first served basis. However, cybersquatting laws, including the Anti-Cybersquatting Consumer Protection Act or ACPA, make it unlawful for a domain name registrant to register the domain name incorporating the trademark of another so long as that individual does so with a bad faith intent to profit off of that trademark. When dealing with personal names, there are also provisions under the ACPA that pertain to the unlawful registratiion of personal names, with a requirement being that there is an offer to sell the domain name incorporating the personal name to the actual individual. Obviously, registering the domain name corresponding to a baby name may carry with it liability under the ACPA's various provisions. However, should the domain name be registered and used for a criticism site, fan site, or some other fair use, the domain name registration and use may not amount to cybersquatting.
Regardless, the best course of action is to be the first to register the domain name prior to any announcement. Parents should be considering registering the domain name corresponding to their baby name prior to their baby's birth. It will most likely be difficult to register domain name corresponding to only the first name, but they can considering registering the first and middle name, the first and middle and last name, or the first and last name. Registering a domain name corresponding to the baby name will not only prevent issues relating to cybersquatting, but it will also be a valuable asset for any individual baby as he or she grows up and wants to use that domain name for personal and/or professional purposes.
It remains to be scene how the matter involving GeorgeAlexanderLouis.com will be resolved. Will Prince William and Kate Middleton contact the domain name registrant and attempt to purchase it? Will a lawsuit be filed? Will a UDRP (Uniform Domain-Name Dispute-Resolution Policy) be filed? Or, will this simply be a story that domain name attorneys and domain name lawyers use to further educate their clients and prospective clients about the importance of domain name registration and protection of both personal name and trademarks?