What is Cybersquatting?

You may have heard the term Cybersquatting in the past. It’s when someone buys a domain name that is a subtle miss-spelling of a well known person or company in an attempt to get traffic from people typing the address into their browser incorrectly.

It is illegal under US law, but in the UK it’s a little more of a grey area. However, it is clearly dodgy because to do it you’re trading on someone else’s name.

Now, because I have some student friends in Leeds, I know of an article that appeared in the latest issue of the Leeds Student Paper about a certain property company in Leeds that lets to students.

No, not that one, another one. This property company is called Pickard Properties, and their website is www.pickardproperties.co.uk. They’re a well known and reputable letting agent in Leeds and are approved by the Leeds student union, so anyone looking to rent student accommodation in Leeds from a decent company knows to go there.

However, if you were to type in www.pickardproperties.com (notice the .com extension) you get redirected to a website owned by a different company, one that is Cybersquatting on Pickerd Properties good name.

I hope no students fall for this one, it’s a very underhand trick.

Darren Jamieson, aka MrDaz, is the Technical Director and co-founder of Engage Web and has been working online in a career spanning two decades. His first website was built in 1998 and is still live today.

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6 thoughts on “What is Cybersquatting?”

  1. Indeed, isn’t that a surprise. According to the Leeds Student Paper, the property company claimed it was a ‘server error’. There aren’t many server errors that produce 302 redirects to rival companies… none in fact.

  2. Of course, the UDRP covers many top level domain extensions globally. SO you can take a squatted domain from a cybesquatter no matter where you, or the registrant, are located.

  3. Thanks for that Enrico, that’s a good point. It should be noted, that while cybersquatting is difficult to guard against in the UK, the act of registering the domain name of a company (in this case the .com of Pickard Properties) without the right to hold that domain is still dodgy, and should Pickard Properties wish, they could take the registrant to court and demand the domain from them.

    They would of course win. I hope they do just that!

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