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Definition: cybersquatting

Registering an Internet domain name that sounds similar to a widely known company or product. For example, if fancy-shirts.com were a popular clothing site, a cybersquatter might register FancyShirtsClothing.com and hope to rank high on a search engine's results page, also by including related words in hidden tags of its Web pages. The site might sell a competitive product or make money from ads (see domain parking).

Instead of registering similar-sounding names, cybersquatters might register the common misspellings of popular domain names (see URL hijacking).

Anti-Cybersquatting: ACPA and UDRP
In 1999, the U.S. government passed the Anti-Cybersquatting Consumer Protection Act (ACPA), which enables trademark holders to obtain civil damages up to $100,000 from cybersquatters. While not directly outlawing cybersquatting, it was an attempt to improve the situation.

Also in 1999, ICANN created the Uniform Domain-Name Dispute-Resolution Policy (UDRP) to resolve cybersquatting disputes. If not resolved, trademark holders may still take legal action under ACPA. See URL hijacking, page hijacking and domaining.