I Disagree With Boston Business Journal Cybersquatter Characterization
David Harris, Tech Editor at the Boston Business Journal, published an article about Boston-related domain names up for sale on Afternic. The article is brief, but I disagree with two areas:
Harris wrote of listings on Afternic that contain the “Boston” search term, “Many of these sites have been registered by cybersquatters.” In looking through the results, there are very few domain name listings that I would consider cybersquatting. I am not a lawyer or a legal expert, so I am not going to call out any domain names that could be considered cybersquatting examples, but in my opinion, there are very few obvious trademarks that come up in the results page for a “Boston” search.
I also disagree with how Harris describes what cybersquatters do. In the article, Harris wrote, “registered by cybersquatters, those people whose mission is to make money off prime Internet real estate.” In my opinion, this definition isn’t really accurate. Cybersquatting deals with the registration and usage of domain names in a way that violates the trademark of another company. Anyone is allowed to own and use a domain name that does not infringe upon the the rights of a trademark holder, and like any other asset class, descriptive domain names can be sold for a profit. Boston-area BuyDomains (former sister company of Afternic) sells millions of dollars worth of descriptive domain names on an annual basis.
Harvard University has a great primer about cybersquatting, but generally speaking, descriptive domain names like BostonLaw.com or BostonRestaurants.com should not be considered cybersquatting, but a domain name like BostonRedSox.com could be cybersquatting if it wasn’t already owned by the 2013 World Series champion Boston Red Sox. Heck, even Boston.com wouldn’t be cybersquatting, nor would Lowell.com, a website one of my companies has operated for many years.
In Harris’ article, he referenced ten domain names that have “Boston” in them. Of those ten, I only see one that could be considered cybersquatting. I am not exactly sure what the point of the article was, but I disagree with two aspects of it.
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