Domain-name cybersquatters may be inevitable, but paying their ransoms doesn’t have to be

Trademark trolls need to get a life.

One of my favourite parts of practicing trademark law is getting to work with creative people. I love having a front-row seat to the process of developing and nurturing a brand. I get inspired by the inventiveness that leads to selecting the perfect name for a business, product and service, and the insight that is similarly applied in devising the right logos and taglines.

So I really hate it when I see people — utterly incapable of developing a single creative or original thought themselves — steal someone else’s intellectual property, and then demand a ransom for its return.

I’m not talking about garden-variety trademark infringement. The motives driving it are sometimes nefarious, but more often it occurs when one party either did not know another similar trademark existed, or did know but did not think it would be an issue.

No, the term “trademark troll” is reserved for a particular type of deviant. Because while there are many ways trademark infringement could occur, the exploitation of domain names online is unique, owing to the sheer volume of top-level domains (.com, .ca, .org) available. It would be near impossible for a brand owner to register domain names for its trademark combined with every single one of those top level domains.

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