The Internet has captured a large audience the world over. Internet usage is on a steady rise, what with social networking sites, live streaming, online shopping, web games, and good old surfing. Increased Internet traffic has opened up opportunities for new a new money-making venture – online advertisements. One of the fastest ways to earn these days, therefore, is to put up websites that would generate a respectable amount of traffic to encourage advertisers to market goods and services through their pages. Some take this venture a little further, purchasing domain names consisting of actual brands and famous personalities, either for the purpose of offering related products and services or reserving such domain for its eventual sale to the legitimate owner of the brand. In the world wide web, this practice is known as cybersquatting.
DotPH, the official domain registry of the Philippines, does not know or verify if the person who registers the domain names is the actual owner of the trade name. It is stressed that as a registry, DotPH is not in a position to say who has the rights to a domain name, which is the way it is with majority of domain registries; anyone can register any domain. Measures geared towards the prevention of cybersquatting are thus lacking. The situation is such that the legitimate owner of the brand or name is left with the option of either purchasing the site from the domain owner at a presumably high price or submitting the matter to dispute resolution providers which are usually based abroad and thus payable in foreign exchange.
In the United States, the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act (ACPA) authorizes a trademark owner to sue an alleged cybersquatter in federal court and obtain a court order transferring the domain name back to the trademark owner. In some cases, the cybersquatter must pay money damages. Perhaps iit’s time that a similar legislation be passed in our jurisdiction.