I Disagree With Boston Business Journal Cybersquatter Characterization

David Harris, Tech Editor at the Boston Business Journal, published an article about Boston-related domain names up for sale on Afternic. The article is brief, but I disagree with two areas:

Harris wrote of listings on Afternic that contain the “Boston” search term, “Many of these sites have been registered by cybersquatters.” In looking through the results, there are very few domain name listings that I would consider cybersquatting. I am not a lawyer or a legal expert, so I am not going to call out any domain names that could be considered cybersquatting examples, but in my opinion, there are very few obvious trademarks that come up in the results page for a “Boston” search.

I also disagree with how Harris describes what cybersquatters do. In the article, Harris wrote, “registered by cybersquatters, those people whose mission is to make money off prime Internet real estate.” In my opinion, this definition isn’t really accurate. Cybersquatting deals with the registration and usage of domain names in a way that violates the trademark of another company. Anyone is allowed to own and use a domain name that does not infringe upon the the rights of a trademark holder, and like any other asset class, descriptive domain names can be sold for a profit. Boston-area BuyDomains (former sister company of Afternic) sells millions of dollars worth of descriptive domain names on an annual basis.

Harvard University has a great primer about cybersquatting, but generally speaking, descriptive domain names like BostonLaw.com or BostonRestaurants.com should not be considered cybersquatting, but a domain name like BostonRedSox.com could be cybersquatting if it wasn’t already owned by the 2013 World Series champion Boston Red Sox. Heck, even Boston.com wouldn’t be cybersquatting, nor would Lowell.com, a website one of my companies has operated for many years.

In Harris’ article, he referenced ten domain names that have “Boston” in them. Of those ten, I only see one that could be considered cybersquatting. I am not exactly sure what the point of the article was, but I disagree with two aspects of it.

Elliot Silver
Elliot Silver
About The Author: Elliot Silver is an Internet entrepreneur and publisher of DomainInvesting.com. Elliot is also the founder and President of Top Notch Domains, LLC, a company that has closed eight figures in deals. Please read the DomainInvesting.com 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. Who is more despised – lawyers or domain “investors” 🙂 ? That could be debated. The reality is most people outside this industry even in 2014 still have little appreciation for why a domain name should cost much more than a few hundred dollars.

  2. I think most people don’t know the true definition of Cybersquatter. If I was an outsider looking in and knew nothing about domains then I think I would call myself a Cybersquatter also. The term just makes logical sense.

    • You make a good point. Ignorance abounds with regard to domain investors… although you would think the tech editor of major business journal would have a clue.

  3. I’ll gladly pay more than a few hundred dollars. I just don’t want to have to pay ten times more than anyone else would pay for the name.

  4. In my world, anyone who uses a domain that profits or attempts to profit off the work of someone else, name, brand, product, whatever, is a cybersquatter, or in the case of misspells, a typosquatter.

    Geo’s don’t apply.

    • Either the author feels that any use of a city name such as “Boston” is a TM OR he’s clueless as to the definition of “cybersquatting”

      If I was writing the article and trying to make the point, I’d post domain that actually infringe on TM’s, most of these do NOT, The only domain he could make the case for IMO is “Boston Medical Center” all the rest have generic keywords, He takes the “Boston Medical Center” domain and lumps them all into one, trying to make the case for cybersquatting which just doesn’t wash, We as domainers know the difference, however the majority of readers don’t and will unfortunately buy into it…


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