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What's in a Name? How to Protect Your Charity Brand From Domain 'Cybersquatting'

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Websites are a vital online tool for many charities, but how do you protect your online brand from unscrupulous cyber squatters, looking to make money?

Cybersquatting usually involves a party registering a domain name, often in bad faith, to gain a commercial advantage - such as selling the domain name or using it as a link to their own website to divert customers.

Although domain name registration is a relatively straightforward process, it can cause a problem if not done properly. The following tips can help charities to avoid some of the potential problems:

  1. There is no automatic right to a domain name - they are available on a first come first served basis.
  2. Charities should check out their preferred domain names as soon as possible to ensure they have not already been taken.
  3. If a third party has registered your favoured domain name, there may be little you can do to force them to transfer ownership to you.
  4. Keep a note of the date registration lapses for any domain names you would like. If the current owner does not renew it, you may be able to purchase it.
  5. Don’t allow your registered domain names to lapse.
  6. Consider buying variations of your preferred domain name and if your charity operates overseas, consider purchasing domain registrations in those countries.
  7. Actively monitor domain name activity in order to protect your online reputation.

If you do encounter a domain name problem, you might consider using a dispute resolution service. However, the powers of the dispute resolution service are generally limited to a transfer of the domain name and, unlike a court; the service cannot make any order for costs or damages.

For more information on this or any charity related legal issue, please email or telephone 0114 2906207.

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