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September 15, 2016

Beware – the cybersquatters are watching you!

The European Union Trademark (EUTM) is immensely popular. Pursuant to statistics from the European Union Trademarks Office (EUIPO), approx. 60,000 new trademark applications have been filed the 6 first months of 2016. The system is in-expensive and efficient offering i.a. online trademark filing with the possibility of seeing new trademark applications in the online trademark register on the same day as they are filed.

But there is a spider in the web; unfortunately, the online trademark register is also being watched on a daily basis by shrewd cybersquatters. The cybersquatters will go through the list of new trademark applications and check whether the .com domain name that corresponds to the new trademark application has been registered or not. If it has not been registered, the cybersquatter will register the domain name on the same day that the trademark application has been filed and offer it for sale.

You can check it out for yourself:

Go to EUIPO’s online register, eSearch Plus, at https://euipo.europa.eu/eSearch/ and choose “advanced search”. Choose a single filing date and you will be presented with a list of all the new EUTM’s filed that day. You can now compare the trademarks with a search for the same mark as a .com domain name in e.g. http://whois.domaintools.com/. You are sure to find examples that some of the marks have been registered on the exact same date as a .com domain name by some anonymous registrant. If you go to the website of such a domain name, you will most likely find a homepage offering you to buy the domain name at around USD 1,000.

By registering the domain name, the cybersquatter obviously seeks commercial gain by trying to generate unjustified revenues and capitalize on the trademark applicant’s omission to register the domain name before filing the trademark application. And there is money to be made; even if USD 1,000 is ten times more than what you have to pay to register the .com domain name yourself, it is a lot cheaper than the costs connected with starting up complaint proceedings which may drag on for several months. If you are desperate to own the domain name here and now, you are likely to pay USD 1,000 for it.

So here is the lesson to be learned:

Make sure that you register all relevant domain names (with and without hyphen) before you file your trademark applications. The cybersquatters are watching you!

Find our experts on trademark registrations and domain names here.


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