Facebook, Google, Walmart, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, TikTok, PayPal, and Apple – these are some of the big brands that have become victims of cybersquatting! Here are some other cybersquatting examples you can learn lessons from…
In our previous article, we answered the question “what is cybersquatting?” and went over ways you can prevent it. In this article, we’re going to show you some well-known and controversial cybersquatting examples to help you explore the concept in more detail. But before we do that, let’s take a few moments to review briefly what cybersquatting is and what it does.
Cybersquatting refers to buying a domain name that’s identical or confusingly similar to a registered trademark without having any legitimate interest in the domain. (You’re “squatting” on the digital property.) The domain registrant buys the domain in bad faith to achieve financial gains, spread malware, or to ruin the original brand’s reputation.
In the United States, the Anti-Cybersquatting Consumer Protection Act (ACPA) is applicable to cybersquatting cases. For international disputes, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) facilitates arbitration and takes into consideration the Uniform Domain-Name Dispute-Resolution Policy(UDRP).
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So, now that we know what cybersquatting is, let’s explore some new and historical cybersquatting examples.
We’re not legal professionals and this isn’t legal advice. We’re just wanting to showcase some cybersquatting examples so you know what real world cybersquatting examples look like.
Cybersquatting Example 1: Amul
Alright, on to our first in the list of cybersquatting examples. Amul is India’s one of the biggest dairy companies with a sales turnover of over 38,550 croreIndian rupees (approximately US$5.28billion, or 385,500,000,000 Indian Rupees) for the fiscal year 2019-2020. The company became the victim of cybersquatting when someone bought the following domains and made phishing sites:
As part of their scam, the perpetrators:
- Made bogus bank accounts using Amul’s name,
- Sent fake forms via emails.
- Asked for payment to become an Amul distributor and franchise store.
- Ran recruitment scams on the websites, asking candidates to pay a fee to submit job applications.
Cybersquatting Example 2: Popular Tech & Banking Brands
Palo Alto Networks discovered the following cybersquatting domains that were used for malicious purposes:
- Walrmart44.com: Spreads adware, spyware, and malicious browser extensions.
- Secure-wellsfargo.org: Steals users’ personally identifiable information, login credentials, and ATM pins.
- Facebookwinners2020.com: Offering fake prizes or free products to victims. To claim the prize, users need to fill out a form with their personal information such as name, email address, phone number, date of birth, income, etc.
Featured in the graph below are some other popular domains that cybersquatters abused in December 2019, according to Palo Alto Networks:
Cybersquatting Example 3: Fox News
Fox News sued the domain owner of xofnews.com and foxnews-entertainment.com on the grounds of cybersquatting. The website owner mimicked the original Fox news site by using the same logo and style for the above-mentioned sites.
When a user lands on one of these sites, they see an article talking about a miracle weight loss supplement. At the end of the article is a link to a payment page for buying the supplements. The concern is that readers would trust the claims because they are published on what appears to be the reputable media channel’s website.
Cybersquatting Example 4: TikTok
Two Australian friends, Fotios Tsiouklas and Alan Gokoglu, anticipated that the app TikTok would become a popular brand, so they bought tiktoks.com for $2,000 just after TikTok’s launch. Bytedance, TikTok’s parent company offered $145,000 to Tsiouklas and Gokoglu to buy that domain. However, the pair decided to retain the domain and start a “follower growth” business, in which they offer a “follow-for-follow” service. They also help people to increase their follower by charging a fee.
After the failed negotiation attempt for the tiktoks.com domain, Bytedance filed a cybersquatting case against TikToks.com in August 2020. The WIPO administrative panel decision report shows that in September 2020, the company filed an amended complaint to also include the following domains:
- Tiktokexposure.com, and
As of Jan. 13, 2021, the panel ordered the pair of friends to transfer all five domains in question to the complainant.
Cybersquatting Example 5: PETA
PETA, which stands for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, is an organization that strongly advocates veganism. It’s a nonprofit organization, which is why its site, peta.org, has the “.org” top-level domain (TLD). However, someone named Michael Doughney bought the domain peta.com and branded it “People Eating Tasty Animals.” He also provided links to some meat suppliers on the website.
This contradicts PETA’s mission and values and was viewed as harmful to PETA’s brand name. PETA sued him and won the case, gaining rights over the domain peta.com. Now, peta.com is owned by PETA and the site redirects website visitors to peta.org.
Cybersquatting Example 6: Mitsubishi and Microsoft
There’s another fashion of making gripe sites in which cybersquatters buy domains having the brand name they hate and add the word “sucks” to the end of it. These two are among the most famous gripe sites:
- Mitsubishisucks.com: A Mitsubishi hater made this site to share everything they think is wrong with Mitsubishi. The site owner includes charts and graphs showing Mitsubishi’s sales decline, customer complaints, workplace discrimination issues, safety concerns, and technical features that he hates.
- Microsoftsucks.org: A Microsoft critic has made this site, which was originally used as a phishing site but now is parked on HostGator and open for sale. However, if you have a robust antivirus program or the firewall, it will see the following warning page and you won’t be able to enter the website.
I’m sure that many people have dreamed of creating sites that speak out against brand, politicians, or companies they dislike or don’t agree with. However, as you can probably guess, this practice is more than frowned upon by the offended brands and individuals and may result in lawsuits.
Cybersquatting Example 7: Business Insider
Andrew Allemann from domainnamewire.com discovered a phony Business Insider website with a web address of foxworldnews.today. The cybersquatting site displays an equally-fake article claiming that Bill Gates gives credits for his brain’s advanced cognitive functions to a drug called Neuro Blast. Allemann post shows that the fake article links to NeuroBlastToday.com and the URL includes an affiliate ID for tracking purpose.
Cybersquatting Example 8: Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation
Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation sued Germany’s My Way Betty Ford Klinik for cybersquatting, trademark infringement, false advertising, and other charges in January 2020. Hazelden is one of the leading rehab centers in Minnesota. They merged with California’s Betty Ford Foundation in 2014 and operate under the brand name of “Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation.”
Apart from providing a systematic rehabilitation treatment for alcohol and drug addiction, the foundation also runs an accredited graduate school to provide academic programs to rehab professionals and an addiction research center.
Casemine.com reports that the German rehab clinic tried to approach the U.S.’s Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation to seek permission to use the Betty Ford name. Although the foundation declined that request, the German center went ahead and bought the domain mywaybettyford.de anyway and operated the business using the same brand name. They even used the fonts and color scheme the same as the hazeldenbettyford.org site.
As you can imagine, this resulted in a lot of confusion for patients regarding the relationship between the U.S. and German organizations. That’s why the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation sued Germany’s My Way Betty Ford Klinik with the charges of cybersquatting and using their brand name without permission. As of Dec. 1, 2020, the defendant’s motion to dismiss was denied in court. This means that the plaintiff’s case against the German will continue.
Cybersquatting Example 9: Android
A Wuhan resident, Jing Ren, bought a domain Android.co.in from an Indian domain registration platform NIXI. He put the website on sale for USD $19,500. Medianama reports that Google sued him and chose the arbitration proceedings in India because the domain was registered in India. In August 2020, Google won the case. The arbitrating committee ordered Jing Ren to hand over the domain Android.co.in to Google.
Ren, who Medianama quotes the arbitrator as calling a “habitual cyber squatter,” faced a similar issue in the past when the arbitration committee ordered him to transfer TikTok.in to TikTok’s parent company ByteDance Ltd.
Cybersquatting Example 10: Microsoft
Microsoft sued a teenager for starting a software development business with a domain name mikerowesoft.com. The teenager, Mike Rowe, was a high school student who started a side business of software development. He didn’t intend to cause any trademark infringement. He just thought if he adds “soft” after his name, it will make a cool phonetic variation of the name “Microsoft.”
But then Microsoft sued him and offered a $10 settlement! Mike felt offended by the gesture and asked for $10,000 to sell the domain name to Microsoft. Microsoft responded with a 25-page cease-and-desist notice. Unfortunately for the tech giant, though, public favor wasn’t on their side. Microsoft received backlash from the media and the public for such aggressive behavior. Later, both the parties agreed to settle out of court.
Cybersquatting vs Domain Investing
Sometimes, people fail to see the fine line between domain investing and cybersquatting. Domain investors buy domains with random dictionary words or popular names with the hope to sell them in the future at a higher rate. They “guess” what type of domain names people are going to need in the future. They keep an eye on the latest industry trends and news to predict future business trends and buy the domains accordingly.
For example, if you notice that cryptocurrencies are becoming popular and register domains that contain words or phrases relating to them, it’s may not technically be considered cybersquatting. (Note: Although we’re going to leave this type of decision up to the courts and other legal professionals to decide — that’s not our area!) This may be the case even if your goal might be to sell such domains to future cryptocurrency business owners or to someone that wants to make a platform to collaborate with crypto miners (something like a discussion group, tips-sharing group).
However, you fall into the realm of cybersquatting if you:
- Buy a domain name that resembles a brand or person who’s already famous,
- They already have a registered trademark on their name, and
- You have a goal to defraud people or to make money in the future by coercing the original business to buy it at a premium price.
For example, if you buy a domain name like biitcoin.com, btcoin.org, bitcoin.cm, etc., to deceive people who want to visit bitcoin.org (original bitcoin mining site), it falls within the realm of cybersquatting.
Hence, if you’re a domain investor, do your research before buying a domain. Otherwise, you might face serious legal and financial consequences in the future. You also may find your site on our updated list of cybersquatting examples in the future.
Final Thoughts on These Cybersquatting Examples
There are thousands of cybersquatting examples and cases we come across every year. Recently, the World Intellectual Property Organization has registeredits 50,000thcybersquatting case. It doesn’t include the cases that people registered in their local courts and try to solve through arbitration processing.
As a website visitor, be vigilant while surfing websites. If you see any unusual signs or changes to how a site you visit normally looks (changes to the site’s layout, lots of ads and redirects, phishy language or questionable content, etc.), be sure to double-check the domain name in the address bar. As your domain name with different TLDs. Domains don’t cost a lot but can save you from a long and costly legal battle in the long run.
If you think someone has acquired a domain name that resembles your brand and their intention is malicious, don’t hesitate to seek legal help. This way, you don’t join another article’s list of cybersquatting examples in the future.
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- #cybersquatting examples
Registering starbucks.org if it hadn't been registered by the trademark owner. Attempting to sell any top-level domain featuring “starbucks” after having no intent to legitimately use the website. Registering potential misspellings or typos for starbucks.What are the 4 types of cybersquatting? ›
At present, there are four dominant cybersquatting types, namely, typosquatting (section 2.1), identity theft (Section 2.2), name jacking (2.3), and reverse-cybersquatting (Section 2.4).What is cybersquatting in cyber security? ›
The term cybersquatting refers to the unauthorized registration and use of Internet domain names that are identical or similar to trademarks, service marks, company names, or personal names.What is cybersquatting and what is should be used to protect an organization from it? ›
For those of you who don't know, Cybersquatting is the practice of registering brand names of reputed companies as Internet domains for the intention of selling them later at a profit. Another similar problem that is even trickier to solve is username squatting.What is a real life example of a domain name? ›
For instance, the domain name example.com might translate to the physical address 198.102. 434.8. Other examples of domain names are google.com and wikipedia.org. Using a domain name to identify a location on the Internet rather than the numeric IP address makes it much easier to remember and type web addresses.What are top-level domains 5 examples? ›
In 2019, the 5 most common domain extensions according to Verisign were .com, . tk, . cn, .de, and . net.What is the purpose of cybersquatting? ›
Cybersquatting is registering, selling or using a domain name with the intent of profiting from the goodwill of someone else's trademark. It generally refers to the practice of buying up domain names that use the names of existing businesses with the intent to sell the names for a profit to those businesses.What are 4 cyber domains? ›
Collier et al., (2013) divided cybersecurity into four domains: the physical domain (hardware and software); the information domain (confidentiality, integrity and availability of information); the cognitive domain (how information is perceived and analyzed); and the social domain (attention to ethics, social norms and ...What are the effects of cybersquatting? ›
When a person registers a domain, that person retains the rights to that domain until he/she sells it or lets the registration expire. Therefore, cybersquatters can severely damage the brand of a trademark owner, simply by preventing them from using the domain name corresponding to their brand.What is squatting Why is squatting a cyber crime? ›
Cybersquatting (also known as domain squatting) is the practice of registering, trafficking in, or using an Internet domain name, with a bad faith intent to profit from the goodwill of a trademark belonging to someone else.
Cybersquatting became a crime with the 1999 Anti-Cybersquatting Consumer Protection Act (ACPA). The ACPA made it illegal to buy domain names that are identical to or very similar to trademarks. A trademark is a word or phrase that identifies your products and services.How can companies prevent cybersquatting? ›
Prevent cybersquatting with proactive security management
Your domain name is an invaluable asset, making online brand protection essential. If you haven't trademarked your domain name, you should consider doing so. Trademarking your domain helps protect it from your competition and cybercriminals.
Cybersquatting is the act of taking up domain names based on well-known and established businesses in order to trade the domain name with its rightful owner for a price. Unfair, you say. Well, yes, but many businesses have fallen prey to cybersquatting because in India there are no laws against cybersquatting.What is cybersquatting and how can it be contained? ›
If a person or company is so famous that it registers its trademark and buys the domain in question to sell it back to itself at a premium in the future, the domain may fall under cybersquatting. A cybersquatting case is possible if the domain or the functioning website contains advertisements referring to a trademark.What are the 7 types of domain? ›
- .com: shorthand for commercial, .com was the first top-level domain in common use. ...
- net: shorthand for network, . ...
- edu: shorthand for education, . ...
- org: shorthand for organization, . ...
- mil: shorthand for military, . ...
- gov: shorthand for government, .
The three domains of learning are cognitive, affective, and psychomotor. There are a variety of methods in professional development events to engage the different learning domains.Is Gmail a domain name? ›
The most well-known domain for email is, of course, gmail.com. This is for regular Gmail users, and takes the form of “email@example.com“. The gmail.com email domain in use.What are the 10 top-level domains? ›
Popular domain TLD extensions
- The Best 10 Domain Name Registrars of 2022.
- Google Domains.
The elements required to establish a cybersquatting claim are: plaintiff's ownership of a distinctive or famous mark entitled to protection; defendant's domain name is identical or confusingly similar to plaintiff's trademark; and defendant registered domain name with bad faith intent to profit from it.
Typosquatting is one of the most common types of cybersquatting. In this situation, the cybersquatter intentionally buys misspelled domain names of popular brands.Is cybersquatting a cybercrime? ›
Cyber Squatting is “an act of procuring fraudulent registration with an intention to sell the domain name to the lawful owner of the name at a premium” and is a kind of Cybercrime prevailing worldwide.What are the original 7 top-level domains? ›
Generic top-level domains (formerly categories) initially consisted of gov, edu, com, mil, org, and net. More generic TLDs have been added, such as info.What is the domain of Facebook? ›
|Web Link||Facebook - Home Page|
- Harassment. ...
- Ransomware. ...
- Prostitution. ...
- Child Pornography & Solicitation. ...
- Intellectual Property Theft. ...
- Account Hacking. ...
- Drug Trafficking. ...
- Credit Card Fraud.
- Security & Risk Management.
- Asset Security.
- Security Engineering.
- Communications & Network Security.
- Identity & Access Management.
- Security Assessment & Testing.
- Security Operations.
- Software Development Security.
- 1- Denial of Service (DoS) attack and Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack. ...
- 2- Malware. ...
- 3- Phishing. ...
- 4- Dive by Download. ...
- 5- Password cracking. ...
- 6- Structures Query Language. ...
- 7- Man in the Middle (MitM) ...
- 8- Cross-site scripting.
Which of the following best describes cybersquatting? It is the practice of registering a domain name and then trying to sell it for big bucks to the person, company, or organization most likely to want it.When did cybersquatting become illegal? ›
Anti-cybersquatting law combats trademark appropriation on the Internet. In 1999 Congress adopted the Anti-Cybersquatting Consumer Protection Act (ACPA), which permits civil suits against individuals who engage in “bad faith” attempts to appropriate the trademarks of others into their domain names without approval.What is the penalty for cybersquatting? ›
Cyber-squatting shall be punished with imprisonment of prision mayor, or a fine of at least Two Hundred Thousand Pesos (P200,000.00) up to a maximum amount commensurate to the damage incurred, or both: Provided, That if it is committed against critical infrastructure, the penalty of reclusion temporal, or a fine of at ...
Your Legal Options
Cybersquatting is an unethical and often unlawful practice that infringes on your intellectual property rights.
Initiate the movement from the hip, not the knee
A common mistake people make while doing squats is to begin the movement from the knee rather than the hip. This generates maximum strain on the wrong muscles (the quadriceps instead of the glutes) while also increasing the risk of knee injury.
- Letting the Butt Rise First on the Way Up. You've just hit the bottom of your squat and are ready to spring out of the hole. ...
- Caving in While Standing Up Out of the Bottom. ...
- Allowing the Knees to Go Too Far Forward. ...
- Failing to Squat Deep Enough. ...
- Lifting the Heels Off the Ground.
What is an example of cybersquatting? the invention of graphical Web browsing.How can you protect company data from cyber attacks? ›
- Secure your networks and databases. Protect your networks by setting up firewalls and encrypting information. ...
- Educate your employees. ...
- Create security policies and practices. ...
- Know how to distinguish between fake antivirus offers and real notifications. ...
- Inform your customers.
Steps for reclaiming a squatted domain
If you believe a domain name infringes on your copyright or trademark, contact the owner of the domain or file a UDRP claim or court proceeding. You'll need to file a complaint, being careful to communicate it in as many ways as possible.
The benefits of DNS are that domain names: can map to a new IP address if the host's IP address changes. are easier to remember than an IP address. allow organizations to use a domain name hierarchy that is independent of any IP address assignment.What is the difference between cybersquatting and typosquatting? ›
Typosquatting, or URL hijacking, is a form of cybersquatting targeting people that accidentally mistype a website address directly into their web browser URL field. Cybersquatters register domain names that are a slight variation of the target brand (usually a common spelling error).What is meant by cyber squatting and example? ›
Cybersquatting examples show Cybersquatting (a.k.a. domain squatting) is the act of registering, trafficking in or using a domain name in bad faith. Cybersquatters neglect the existence of a trademark to profit from others. In fact, domain names are cheap and are sold on a "first come, first served" basis.What are top-level domains 3 examples? ›
Generic Top-level Domains (gTLD) Sponsored Top-level Domains (sTLD) Country Code Top-level Domains (ccTLD) Infrastructure Top-Level Domain (ARPA)
cybercrime, also called computer crime, the use of a computer as an instrument to further illegal ends, such as committing fraud, trafficking in child pornography and intellectual property, stealing identities, or violating privacy.What are the five examples of cybercrime? ›
- Phishing Scams.
- Website Spoofing.
- IOT Hacking.
Buy more top-level domains (TLDs)
To prevent cybersquatting, you might want to consider investing in more TLDs so they can't be taken by cybersquatters.
In any event, it is accepted today that there are three distinct domains of organisms in nature: Bacteria, Archaea, and Eukarya.What are the 4 common top level domains? ›
- gTLD – Generic Top-Level Domain.
- sTLD – Sponsored Top-Level Domain.
- ccTLD – Country Code Top-Level Domain.
- Infrastructure Top-Level Domain.
We always recommend choosing a .com domain name. While it can be tempting to come up with clever blog names using new extensions, .com is still the most established and credible domain name extension. In our opinion, newer domain extensions like .Which website domains are the most reliable? ›
- org (a registered organisation)
- edu (an educational institution)
- gov (a government agency)
- gov.au (an Australian government agency)