With the boom of the internet and the use of social media and websites to boost popularity, domain names for celebrities and politicians are some of the more popular domains trying to be acquired. However, hijacked or acquired domains that are intended to be sold for an inflated price or to be used to post negative and slanderous messages about the famous individual on that website is considered as cybersquatting and is unlawful. The Anti-Cybersquatting Consumer Protection Act (ACPA) and the Lantham Act were enacted to prohibit cybersquatters from registering a domain name containing a trademark with no intention of creating a legitimate website but to instead sell such domain name to the trademark owner or a third-party for a significant profit.
Even with such laws in place to protect personal and proper names of famous people like politicians, why are many of these domains still selling at such high prices? One reason may be that the time and money it takes to go through a legal proceeding to acquire the domain name is more substantial than what one desire to endure. So, in order to save on time, some may believe that it would be easier to just pay the high price to quickly obtain such domain name, especially if a political election is on the horizon. But each case is unique and depending on the details and the parties involved, a political cybersquatting domain name issue could possibly be resolved in a reasonable amount of time if represented by an knowledgeable domain name attorney. Even if one believes that paying the high asking price for a political domain name is a better alternative than dealing with a court proceeding, the politician or famous person should really take the time to make a strategic plan with an experienced domain name lawyer before paying any amount.
The Lantham Act has protected trademarks in the United States for a very long time. Our domain name attorneys often receive questions from clients about personal name protection in cyberspace. The Wikipedia definition of 'personal name' states, "A personal name is the proper name identifying an individual person. It is nearly universal for a human person to have a name." And yes, personal names are specifically protected from cybersquatting under the Anti-Cybersquatting Consumer Protection Act (ACPA). If you are experiencing a similar issue or have further questions about cybersquatting, contact one of our domain name attorneys.