Strategist - The FindLaw Law Firm Business Blog

The Case for Buying Extra Domain Names

People constantly misspell my name. All three parts of it. So if I wanted to open the Robyn Hagan Cain Law Firm, I wouldn't just buy the domain name robynhagancainlaw.com. I would probably buy domains with common variations of my name -- Robin and Hagen and Kain/Cane/Kane -- and redirect each of those to the primary site, robynhagancainlaw.com.

Why the extra expense and effort for my hypothetical law firm? I just don't want to waste time fighting cybersquatters in court.

Gioconda Law Group is a New York boutique practice specializing in counterfeiting and cybersquatting cases. The firm's web address is www.giocondalaw.com. Gioconda Law has some web-based competition from www.giocondolaw.com, a domain registered by Arthur Wesley Kenzie, a Canadian computer programmer.

Gioconda Law sued Kenzie, claiming that Kenzie is a "domain name cybersquatter and hacker who has intentionally intercepted e-mail traffic" for the firm, the ABA Journal reports.

Recently, U.S. District Judge J. Paul Oetken denied Gioconda Law Group's partial motion for judgment under the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act, according to the New York Law Journal. Judge Oetken found that it wasn't clear that Kenzie had bad intentions for registering the domain. "If anything, given that [Kenzie] aims both to influence plaintiff's behavior and shape public understanding of what he perceives to be an important vulnerability in cybersecurity systems, this case arguably falls closer to cases involving parody and consumer complaint sites," Judge Oetken wrote.

The Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act permits the owner of a protected name or mark to file a civil action against a cybersquatter in cases where there is a bad faith intent to profit from the mark and registration of the offending domain name. Gioconda Law says it will get the bad faith evidence in discovery. Kenzie maintains that he registered the domain as part of "legitimate research concerning cybersecurity vulnerabilities," the ABA Journal reports.

Regardless of who wins, everyone has lost time and money arguing about these nearly-identical domain names. Save yourself from a similar hassle; purchase the common variations of your practice's web address before someone else does.

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