According to the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act, Cybersquatting on a trademark is illegal. However, someone registered myfirstname.com. Do I have any legal right to ask them to sell it to me at a reasonable price ($10)?
Under the ACPA, a trademark owner may bring a cause of action against a domain name registrant who
- Has a bad faith intent to profit from the mark
- Registers, traffics in, or uses a domain name that is
- Identical or confusingly similar to a distinctive mark
- Identical or confusingly similar to or dilutive of a famous mark
- Is a trademark protected by 18 U.S.C. § 706 (marks involving the Red Cross) or 36 U.S.C. § 220506 (marks related to the “Olympics”)
A trademark is famous if the owner can prove that the mark “is widely recognized by the general consuming public of the United States as a designation of source of the goods or services of the mark's owner”.
“Trafficking” in the context of domain names includes, but is not limited to “sales, purchases, loans, pledges, licenses, exchanges of currency, and any other transfer for consideration or receipt in exchange for consideration”. The ACPA also requires that the mark be distinctive or famous at the time of registration.
In determining whether the domain name registrant has a bad faith intent to profit, a court may consider many factors, including nine that are outlined in the statue:
- Registrant’s trademark or other intellectual property rights in the domain name;
- Whether the domain name contains the registrant’s legal or common name;
- Registrant’s prior use of the domain name in connection with the bona fide offering of goods or services;
- Registrant’s bona fide noncommercial or fair use of the mark in a site accessible by the domain name;
- Registrant’s intent to divert customers from the mark owner’s online location that could harm the goodwill represented by the mark, for commercial gain or with the intent to tarnish or disparage the mark;
- Registrant’s offer to transfer, sell, or otherwise assign the domain name to the mark owner or a third party for financial gain, without having used the mark in a legitimate site;
- Registrant’s providing misleading false contact information when applying for registration of the domain name;
- Registrant’s registration or acquisition of multiple domain names that are identical or confusingly similar to marks of others; and
- Extent to which the mark in the domain is distinctive or famous.
The ACPA does not prevent the fair use of trademarks or any use protected by the First Amendment, which includes gripe sites. In Mayflower Transit, L.L.C. v. Prince, 314 F. Supp. 2d 362 (D.N.J 2004), the court found that the first two prongs of Mayflower's ACPA claim were easily met because (1) their registered trademark was distinctive and (2) Defendant’s “mayflowervanline.com” was confusingly similar to Plaintiff’s Mayflower trademark. However, when the court was examining the third prong of Plaintiff’s ACPA claim, whether Defendant registered its domain name with the bad faith intent to profit from Plaintiff, the court found Defendant had a bona fide noncommercial use of the mark, therefore, the ACPA claim failed. “Defendant’s motive for registering the disputed domain names was to express his customer dissatisfaction through the medium of the Internet.”
The domain name registrar or registry or other domain name authority is not liable for injunctive or monetary relief except in the case of bad faith or reckless disregard.
While § 1125 protects trademark owners, 15 U.S.C. § 1129 protects any living person from having their personal name included in a domain name, but only when the domain name is registered for profitable resale.
No, you cannot.
There are probably hundreds of millions of people across the world carrying out the most popular first names, and even the rarest dictionary names are still carried out by tens of thousands of people across the globe.
You cannot expect to come down to the internet in 2015 and take a
.com name that's potentially wanted by so many people and has been registered for 20 years since 1995, even if it's presently being offered on sale. Were you even born before it was registered?
(Especially if you're only willing to pay 10$ for it, which likely wouldn't even cover the direct costs of the present registrant, not to mention the supply/demand part.)
The aforementioned 15 U.S.C. § 1129 from the other answer indeed looks somewhat applicable, but I highly doubt that anyone would agree that a random myfirstname individual, one who is not expressly famous or known by any significant proportion of the population under such name, is somehow intrinsically owned a
myfirstname.com domain name, just because they're the first one to file a lawsuit against the present owner that's offering it on sale. What the court would likely conclude is that the similarity between the names in purely incidental.
First, unless you are the only person with that first name, there wouldn't be any reason why you should have the right to this domain name, and not someone else with the same first name. Looking at howmanyofme.com I found there are between 100,000 and 200,000 people in the USA alone with the same first name as me, and about the same number with the same first name as my wife. And that's the USA alone with less than 5% of the world population. Now if your full name is Mr. Chiperryman Smith you might have a point :-)
Second, unless there are circumstances that would make this unfair, the rule for domain names is first come, first served. What would count strongly for the currently registered owner would be if they have a genuine connection to that name, if they are actively trading with that name. What would strongly count against the currently registered owner would be offering the name to the other person for a large amount of money; typically this would happen if a name is registered for the purpose of selling it to someone else.
So if I registered www.chipperyman.com after reading your post here and then offered to sell it to you for $10,000, I would likely lose. If I used www.chipperyman.com to sell little chippery figures for the last 15 years, you have no chance in hell.
If you read about the definition of cybersquatting just on wikipedia, it is quite obvious that someone using the domain name for 15 years is not in the slightest way coming anywhere near the definition of cybersquatting.