US to crack down on cybersquatting

The US Senate by a unanimous voice vote has approved a bill that would crack down on those who register popular trademark names as Internet domain names with the intent of selling them to the companies holding the trademarks.

The practice, called "cybersquatting", has become a financial windfall for some who scramble to register trademarks or names close to trademarks and then demand high prices to sell the domains to the companies.

Besides cracking down on people who register trademark names "in bad faith" with the intent of making money from selling the domain names, the bill also is intended to protect Internet users and children who use "bad or misleading" Internet addresses and wind up at sites containing pornographic or inappropriate content.

The anti-cybersquatting bill would place civil and criminal penalties on those who violate the proposed law, allowing plaintiffs to recover damages of $US1000 to $US100,000 per domain name. The original bill proposal imposed harsher criminal and civil penalties, but it was amended by the Senate before the vote was taken.

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