Domain Registration Trolls & Spam: What You Should Know 2021
Today, domain registration trolls and spam have a sea of businesses to choose from. E-commerce and visibility have become a necessity in order to compete and be successful in the marketplace. Business’ advertising and marketing budgets have skyrocketed in order to fulfill these tasks.
Domain names have become increasingly expensive, that provides an opportunity for profit. Some “organizations” don’t seem to play by the same rules and their unethical behavior seems endless.
What is a domain registration troll?
“Domain Registration Trolls” is a term used to refer to people or businesses that buy and register domain names. Usually, they don’t intend to use these domain names for legitimate purposes. This has also come to be known as “Domain Squatting” or “Cybersquatting”. These are people or organizations who buy website addresses specifically to make a profit on them.
Some examples of Domain Squatting/Cybersquatting
Domain registration trolls and spam is a growing issue. Some of the most common examples of domain or cybersquatting are as follows. A domain registration troll buys a domain using another business’ name which hasn’t been registered yet. This usually leads to some form of a ransom or an auction of the name to the highest bidder. It can also be an established name that is about to expire or a close variant of a domain name. What if I announced my new company tomorrow? If I hadn’t already purchased the domain name, someone could “steal” the name and register it. This leaves me no option other than to pay their asking price or change my business’ or attempt to buy it at auction.
How does it Work?
This is a moral gray area, and in order to reap the rewards, hundreds of companies participate in “domain name warehousing”. You’d be surprised how many well known businesses participate in this. A registrar is a business that buys and sets up the domain and then assigns it an IP address.
It is becoming easier to find people or companies who do this. They buy thousands of domain names and hold them in order to sell them to someone who wants to use them at a later date. Some companies have become so aggressive that they will even pressure you into a payment by threatening a petition to cancel your existing registration.
Domain Registration Trolls Targeting Through Mail
Usually, this is an internet based business model. However, some people are now receiving physical letters in the mail. They seem to have graduated from purely email and telephone based harassment.
Domain Registration Spam
The “Important notice” is the most common. Spammers will rely on this because domain registrars are required to send out messages to domain owners. They usually do this to update the contact details of the owner.
It looks like a warning, most of the time. They are “warning” you that your domain name will expire soon. It’s really easy to mistake this as a notice of expiration.
If you read carefully, you’ll notice that it is a renewal notification. This usually come from a company that you’ve never heard of before.
These letters are almost unidentifiable from a real one. We’ve done a blog on one specific company before called Higbee & Associates. You can read about them here and gain more insight.
There is a way out!
The Trademark Trial and Appeal Board ruled in favor of Philanthropist inc. when they were approached by a domain name troll. The board found that the mere act of domain name warehousing was insufficient.
In other words, it does not meet the entitlement set forth by Section 14 of the Trademark Act. This takes away the leverage that a warehousing company may seem to have over you.
How Can You Protect Your Business?
Even thought it is unethical, trolling is not generally illegal. However, you may be justifiably worried if someone is out there using your business’ name to possibly trick customers or tarnish your reputation.
What is the best way to protect your business? Make sure that you register any domain names you want to use now or sooner rather than later.
You should also register any variations of your domain name. Such as .net or .co You will also want to consider registering any phrases, slogans etc. and set them up to direct all traffic to your main website.
Be sure to manage your domain names carefully and make sure you register or renew them before they expire.
Does Someone Already Own Your Domain Name?
If someone already owns the domain name you want, you have a few options. You can reach out to the owner to see if they are willing to sell. If you have trouble reaching an agreement, there are companies that offer mediation services to settle disputes..
This is a good option but it may not work. The owner may not want to sell or may act irrationally. If someone is trying to infringe on your trademark i.e. using your name in bad faith then you may be able to prosecute. An example would be a company trying to sell similar products to yours, in order to fool the consumer.
Need Some Help Regarding Domain Registration Trolls?
Reach out to Faceless Marketing for some consultation and education. You never know what you may learn next. Give us a call at 1-800-357-1299.