ANTI-CYBERSQUATTING CONSUMER PROTECTION ACT What is the ACPA?
The Anti-cybersquatting Consumer Protection Act (ACPA) is a US federal law enacted in 1999 to protect the owners of trademarks from abuse by domain name cybersquatters. ACPA is codified at 15 U.S.C. § 1125(d). The legal remedies available against those who violate the act appear at 15 U.S.C. § 1117. A trademark owner can request a cancellation or transfer of the domain name as well as money to cover damages caused by the domain holder.
In particular, ACPA outlaws the practice of registering one or more domain names that resemble distinctive trademarks with the intent to extract a handsome price from the trademark owner.
Somewhat more broadly, the Act is meant to reduce consumers' confusion about the source and sponsorship of Internet web pages. Its goal is to provide customers with a measure of reliability, so they know that when they visit www.reebok.com, they will be able to find actual Reebok products, not something entirely different. It also aims to protect trademark owners from the loss of customer goodwill that could be caused by others' use of their trademarks to market shoddy or disreputable goods or services.
Before a trademark owner can take a domain name under the ACPA, the law requires the tradmark owner to prove the name is being used in commerce in bad faith. If you are using a domain name for legitimate, non-commercial purposes, that may be a defense.
Harvard Law School '04