Who Owns Your Name on the Internet? You? Maybe Not
The last two decades have been the era of Internet entrepreneurs and dot-com darlings, many of whom have become wealthy beyond belief and good for them too! These are the people who either put in the hard work and long hours while they struggled to launch their brilliant concepts and ideas, or gained their wealth by taking the risk to invest in those good ideas. Eventually, and with some luck, good timing, hard work, and wise investments, it paid off and the results speak for themselves.
But since time immemorial, there are those who have looked for get-rich-quick schemes that could make them a lot of money with very little, if any, effort. Sometimes the business community applauds those clever success stories and observers smack their foreheads and say, “I could’ve done that,” or, “That’s exactly what I thought of, why didn’t I do something about it?" Too late, someone else did and is rich and sometimes famous for it.
Into the category of get-rich-with-no-effort one can put those who buy up a lot of Internet addresses, domain names, waiting for a company or individual to want one of them badly enough to pay for it. Often the amount that they’re willing to pay is staggeringly high, and the seller laughs all the way to the bank, not caring what others say about them.
There’s a term for selling domain names that belong to others; it’s called “cyber squatting,” (also known as “domain squatting”) and is said with no amount of warmth directed at those who do it. There’s even a Federal law against using a domain name with “bad faith intent to profit from the goodwill of a trademark belonging to someone else.”
Would a person’s own name qualify? This too has a name; it’s called “name-jacking,” and has one of two purposes. The first is as indicated above; someone wants to use the domain name for their own business which is named after them, but has to pay someone else to buy it back. The second scheme is where a name-jacker purchases the domain name, for example, John.Smith.com, and uses it to generate a number of clicks to that site which translates to revenue. For example, let’s say the real John Smith has a variation of this domain name for his “John Smith Real Estate” business. The public searches on-line for “John Smith Real Estate” and his name-jacked site comes up high on the results. Unknowingly, it gets clicked on, and income is earned for traffic generated to that site, whether the person intended to visit it or not.Continued on the next page