Cybersquatting in the Past Hurts Today

Subscribe to Elliot's BlogOur industry still has a bad reputation from misdeeds that occurred years ago before trademark laws were actively enforced on domain owners. While there is still less obvious cybersquatting today than years ago, the industry continues to get a bad rap from people who aren’t familiar with it due to events that occurred years ago.
At a wedding this past weekend, I was speaking to a person who is the CEO of a multi-national venture capital firm. In addition to retail, financial, and oil company holdings in the US and Europe, he also owns a professional soccer team. When I told him about my business, he mentioned that he was somewhat familiar with it, having dealt with a guy who tried to sell him the .com of his full name for $20,000 (his name is not common at all, and all Google results for his name are for him). He didn’t outwardly say it, but I could tell he didn’t think domain investing is a legitimate business.
When I explain what I do to people I don’t know, I find that people either have no clue about the domain industry or they have a negative opinion about it. I frequently find myself defending our industry to people I meet, explaining that the domain names I own are generic names that don’t infringe on other brands. It’s frustrating that misdeeds in the past still affect us today.

Elliot Silver
Elliot Silver
About The Author: Elliot Silver is an Internet entrepreneur and publisher of Elliot is also the founder and President of Top Notch Domains, LLC, a company that has closed eight figures in deals. Please read the Terms of Use page for additional information about the publisher, website comment policy, disclosures, and conflicts of interest. Reach out to Elliot: Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn


  1. Why do you classify those “misdeeds” as being in the past? Surely there’s at least as much squatting going on today as there ever was.
    I think it’s much less blatant in many respects. You don’t see many people buying the exact company name and then offering it to them for sale because of the ACPA/Lanham Act.

  2. Elliot is right.
    When telling someone, that I was a domain name investor, they said “Is that when you buy a name and sell it for a ton of money a few years later”?
    People have a misconception that it is always easy money-which is nonsense.
    A lot of people work hard digging ditches, but very few find platinum their first month on the job.
    Many have no idea how much hard work and creativity go into making a living domaining.
    I like to think that there has been a decrease in misdeeds in the industry.
    And like a bad restaurant review, If people hear 20 good ones but one bad one. , the negative one usually stands out.

  3. Domain names are cyber real estate, plain and simple. And, as in traditional real estate, you can have squatters.
    I’ve found that when I make that analogy most people quickly abandon their “all domainers are cybersquatters” mentality and open their minds to other ideas including the fact that the present financial abyss is entirely due to the mechanisms of traditional real estate.
    In other words, domain names are the investments of the future.

  4. Not to long ago I was talking to a guy, a sales coach for a German insurance company. He started talking about investments,
    Anyway, he asked me what i do for a living and if I where interested in good investments.
    I answered, I am also into sales and investments. He asked what I sell? I just replied, name it, I have it.
    He asked what do you mean? I just said, I can offer you nearly anything you want? And then giving him a short insight on domaining.
    Of course being in the insurance and investment business he said, well how about some stock from company “X” and company “Z”.
    I told him sure no problem, just go to ”” ( in German) There, on my website you’ll find all the Stock you want.
    This is what I love about this business.
    You can be and sell anything you want. With out cybersquatting.

  5. Agreed with Elliot, in general, that’s what people think about domain investing. Remember, these TM owners did not have a choice in wanting to deal with domain names – it landed on their lap when domain names became viewed as IP property – so, yeah, they don’t have much of a clue and they started off on the wrong footing for domain names. However, I think alot to be gained from both sides of the fence, if the industry stops being so divided and paranoid about either side. When have you seen a TM owner sit up on a Panel at a TRAFFIC event? Have domainers attended INTA? If a step was taken by either side to get closer, I think there is a lot of untouched business there. “Bad apples” from the TM side also causes domainers to think most IP owners are unsavvy – I know for a fact, there are many savvy TM owners who dont think like your typical “close minded” attorney and would consider the value of generics as important for their overall business. They in turn should realize “cybersquatters” have done half the job for them in registering “their” names with traffic value, which they should have done a long time ago to leverage the traffic for their brand.

  6. Reading all the comments and Elliot talking about owning generic names, got me thinking of where the edge might be on “ cybersquatting” I mean how far can you go and where do really draw the line?
    This is not to offend anyone, but let’s take for example geo names.
    Aren’t city names really a close edge to cybersqatting ? I mean most geo owners have nothing in common with the geo domain name they own and they don’t work for the city either.
    None of us here are in this business for pure fun. It’s all about profit. The question is why would you register New For the profit! Everybody knows New York is looked up million of times a month.
    A city known around the world just like many others. Well established businesses, history and the stock market empire resides in New York.
    Aren’t city names which we abuse for profit really close on that cybersqatting edge in some cc endings you are already past that edge by law, depending on the country?
    I think it is where you also draw your personal line between legal and illegal domaining.

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