Protecting The Online Consumer Experience
Reforming the Anti-Cybersquatting Consumer Protection Act
The cybersquatting problem is as old as the Internet itself, and the 1999 ACPA was a good start towards deterring cybersquatting. However, the Internet since then has evolved and there is now compelling consumer protection and business promotion reasons to amend the original law.
Congress enacted the ACPA in 1999 as an initial means for brand owners to seek redress against cybersquatters. However, the Internet today is a very different place.
In addition to consumer harm, industry suffers losses resulting from diverted traffic, the loss of consumer trust, and increased expenses of protecting consumers from Internet-based fraud. Revenues lost to cybersquatting may not be invested in company expansion, new hires, or capital expenditures, a negative multiplier effect in the current economy.
Foster Deterrence through Statutory Damages. Under current law, cybersquatters face statutory damages of between $1,000 and $100,000 per domain name. The courts have, however, generally awarded limited damages closer to $1,000 per domain name. For consumers, such ineffective enforcement leads to greatly expanded risk in the course of regular Internet use. For brand owners, the cost of filing and pursuing legal action far exceed the potential damages the mark owner is likely to be awarded.
Fostering deterrence through higher statutory damages would help the ACPA serve as an effective deterrent to cybersquatting and domain name abuse that cost brands and consumers in time and money.